FLY-HALF Sam Bright landed a 38 metre penalty goal in the dying seconds to snatch Merewether a gripping 31-29 win over Maitland in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union qualifying final at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.
Six minutes earlier, Bright had a cross-field kick charged down by Maitland opposite Pat Batey, who raced 50 metres to score a converted try and give the Blacks a 29-28 advantage.
Rather than disheartened, the Greens dusted themselves off, got the ball back not long after the restart and worked there way down field before being awarded a penalty. Bright, the competition’s leading point-scorer, did the rest.
Lock Kade Robinson, No.8 Ramiha Smiler and outside centre Dylan Smouha were outstanding for the Greens.
Maitland had scored two early tries to lead 15-17. The Greens hit back to go to the break up 17-15. The second half ebbed and flowed before the thrilling finish.
Merewether will now meet minor premiers Hamilton in the major semi-final next Saturday.
The Blacks play the winner of Sunday’s elimination semi-final between Nelson Bay and Wanderers.
NORTHERN NSW FOOTBALL NPL
Premiers Edgeworth will take a slight advantage into the second leg of the Northern NSW NPL semi-final after scoring a valuable away goal in a 1-all draw at Edden Oval on Saturday.
Braedyn Crowley put the Jaffas ahead in the 15th minute with a well-taken finish after good work in the lead-up by Ryan Griffiths.
But the Eagles hit back in the 31st minute through former Central Coast Mariners fullback Josh Rose.
Adam Cawley made a break down the flank and delivered a searching ball for the veteran to slot home.
The second leg will be played at Jack McLaughlin Oval next Saturday.
Maitland host Broadmeadow Magic at Cooks Square Park on Sunday in the opening leg of the other semi-final.
NEWCASTLE RUGBY LEAGUE
Lakes United were crowned minor premiers and perennial powerhouse Western Suburb dumped out of the finals for the first time in 39 years in a drama-charged final round of the Newcastle Rugby League.
Lakes, Souths and Maitland entered Saturday locked on 18 points.
The Seagulls accounted for Souths 36-20 at Cahill Oval to move to 20 points. That win combined with Maitland’s 17-10 loss to Kurri Kurri at Kurri handed Lakes the minor premiership.
Kurri’s win sealed fifth place for the Bulldogs.
Wests were awarded a 26-0 win over Macquarie at Peacock Field after the game was called off at half time due to inclement weather. However, the win was in vain after the Bulldogs beat the Pickers.
A weather front brought hail and torrential rain at Toronto just before half-time. The deluge continued for some 30 minutes. After consultation between the NSW Rugby League ground manager and the referees, the field was deemed unplayable.
Central meet Cessnock at St John Oval in the final match of the round on Sunday. A win for the Butcher Boys will move them into third spot. A loss will see them finish fifth.
BLACK DIAMOND AFL
Gun forward Pat Gillingham and Cam Keast each kicked three goals as Newcastle City overcame arch rivals Cardiff 70-41 in the Black Diamond AFL preliminary final on Saturday to book a place in next week’s grand final.
The Blues finished third, a place behind the Hawks, but produced their A-game to lead at every turn on the way to a 10.10 (70) to 5.11 (41) triumph.
While Gillingham and Keast did most of the damage on the scoreboard, Aidan Waitling and Ian Baker were superb in defence and Macaulay O’Malley was strong in the ruck.
O’Malley kicked the first goal as the Blues opened a 15-8 lead at quarter-time. They held Cardiff goal-less in the second term before kicking five-majors in the third to blow the game open.
Tom Yensch and David O’Donnell were best for the Hawks.
Minor premiers Terrigal Avoca will meet Warners Bay in the other preliminary final at Adelaide Street Oval on Sunday.