Woodberry Warriors and Aberglasslyn Ants premiers as Griffins fall short

CHAMPIONS: The Woodberry Warriors celebrate winning the NHRL B-grade grand final.
CHAMPIONS: The Woodberry Warriors celebrate winning the NHRL B-grade grand final.

The Woodberry Warriors and Aberglasslyn Ants completed the premiership double with victories in Saturday's B-grade and Ladies League Tag A-grade grand finals.

Unfortunately, the East Maitland Griffins outstanding form of 2018 deserted them in the grand final losing 24-16 to Windale in an error-riddled performance.

Woodberry added the major title to the minor premiership with a commanding 40-14 win against University.

The Ants made it back-to-back titles with an 18-4 victory against University, who inflicted the Ants first loss in two years in the major semi-final.

Any doubts the Warriors would be able to counter the pacy and skilled University side were smashed in the opening minutes with the Woodberry forwards making huge inroads.

Woodberry crossed for their first try with Willie Poleo crossing out wide. The Warriors scored from the re-start making their way up the field for hooker Matthew Howden to score from dummyhalf.

Ten minutes into the game Poleo crossed out wide again to take Woodberry to a 14-0 lead.

University replied with a converted try midway through the second half and the Warriors’ kick to restart play went out on the full. 

However, they immediately bounced back with a huge 40-20 putting them 10 metres out  Prop Steven Forrest charged onto the ball from the tap and shrugged off the Uni defence to score beside the uprights.

Lock Rhys Clacherty crossed for the Warriors fifth after Forrest was just stopped short of the line.

The Warriors led 30-6 at half-time and finished the job in the second with captain Forrest scoring his second try and wing Hayden Holding crossing for the Warriors final try before Uni scored two late consolation tries.

The Aberglasslyn Ants reasserted their domination of Ladies League Tag A-grade with 18-4 win against arch rivals University.

Shae Ross opened the scoring within the first three minutes with a darting run. Jess Cassidy’s kicking was causing Uni problems before she ran and crossed for the Ants’ second try just before half-time for a 10-0 lead.

Uni scored first after the break but the Ants finished with a penalty goal and converted try to Caitlin Shoulders.

The Ants scooped the prizes on the day and the season with Cassidy collecting the player of the year, leading try scorer and leading points scorer awards for the competition and halfback Neisha Smith named player of the grand final.

It was a disappointing day for the Griffins with a mistake-ridden performance, but coach Darren Wright said he was extremely proud of his team and they had the foundation for success in the future.

In his last game as coach, Wright said were unable to find the touch which delivered them the minor premiership by three games.

“We made too many errors, but footy can be like that,” he said.

“When I started two years ago the aim was to lift the club with on-field success and I think the boys have achieved that with a lot of hard work,” he said.

“They are a tight bunch and will stick together and have a lot more success in the future.”

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