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A Ben Barba hat trick in the final 15 minutes has steered the Bankstown City Bulls to the NSW Cup Premiership, defeating the Balmain Ryde Tigers 32 points to nil.
It was a game that promised to be one for the ages if the first half was anything to go by.
The Bulls skipped out to an early six-nil lead through Fred Briggs, but after that point all the momentum was with the Tigers.
The Tigers looked most likely to score, and would have put at least three or four tries on the board had they been able to hang onto the final pass.
However the Bulls withstood all the pressure and held onto their slim lead going into the half.
Coming out of half time and there was a noticable drop in intensity for a large part of the second half, with neither team running with as much starch as they had in the first half and two penalty goals to the Bulls the only scores.
However cometh the hour, cometh the man, and Barba was that man, taking the game by the scruff of the neck in the 66th, swooping on a loose pass and racing 70 metres for the first of his tries.
Barba had his second in the 69th when he intercepted Josh Lewis's pass close to the line and dotted down under the posts for his second.
Two minutes later and Barba was setting up the try, running to the line before passing out to Danny Williams in a huge hole who in turn did a great job drawing the fullback and passing out to Nick Taylor for the try.
Barba left the play of the day til last, however, when he grubbered through for himself in the 77th. Gavin Cowan got to the ball first, but before he knew it Barba had plucked the ball out of his hands and raced away for the try.
Brent Crisp had extra reason to celebrate, as his conversion of Barba's last try gave him 300 points for the season.
Bankstown City Bulls 32 def Balmain Ryde Tigers 0
NSW Cup Grand Final - Sunday October 4th, 2009 12:15pm Venue: ANZ Stadium, Homebush Referee: Adam Gee Crowd: Halftime: Bankstown City Bulls 6 Balmain Ryde Tigers 0
Bankstown City Bulls 32
Tries: Fred Briggs, Ben Barba (3), Nick Taylor
Goals: Brent Crisp (6/7)
Balmain Ryde Tigers 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Ben Barba (Bulls) 2 Points: Brent Crisp (Bulls) 1 Point: Danny Williams (Bulls)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the NSWRL Grand Final as it happens - forum discussion - click here!
Good afternoon and welcome to ANZ Stadium for the first match of our Grand Final triple header here on LeagueUnlimited.com between the Bankstown City Bulls and the Balmain Ryde Tigers.
Bankstown have been the standout team all year, finishing minor premiers by a clear three points and go into this game deserved favourites. Balmain, however, will be looking to cause a major upset in winning the flag from 6th on the final ladder.
Teams are as follows: BANKSTOWN: 1 Brent Crisp 2 Heka Nanai 3 Tim Winitana 4 Matt Utai 5 Nick Taylor 6 Peewee Moke 7 Ben Barba 8 Charlie Leaeno 18 Trent Cutler 10 Fred Briggs 11 Danny Williams (c) 12 Brad Morrin 13 Lee Te Maari Interchange: 9 Nathan Smith 14 John Kite 16 Jake Foster 17 Harlan Alaalatoa BALMAIN: 1 Sean Meaney 2 Billy Callaway 3 Lee Bennett (c) 4 Matthew Ryan 5 Junior Roqica 6 Gavin Cowan 7 Josh Lewis 8 Al Schirnack 9 Ryan Carr 10 David Gower 11 Dean Webster 12 Willie Mataka 13 Jared Farlow Interchange: 14 Fletcher Hawkins 15 Eloni Vunakece 16 Brett Lane 17 Steve Moses
Stay tuned here on LeagueUnlimited.com, kickoff is just moments away!
0 min: And we're underway! Tigers to have first use of the ball.
0 min: Thirty seconds in and we've got our first penalty, this one to the Tigers for a lifting tackle. Balmain up inside Bulls territory.
1 min: Back to back penalties for the Tigers, after Te Maari is caught using his head in the tackle.
2 min: Carr tries to burrow under from dummy half, but is held up.
2 min: Cowan send the 5th tackle kick up to the corner where it is taken well under heavy pressure by Taylor in goal for the restart at the 20.
4 min: Utai makes one of his trademark bullocking runs, and earns his side a penalty in doing so. Bulls on the Tigers 20.
5 min: Two penalties in as many seconds for the Bulls after the ball is punched out in the tackle.
6 min: TRY Bankstown City Bulls Following back to back penalties, Briggs proves too hard to stop close to the line as he charges onto the ball and over the defence for the try. Conversion attempt by Brent Crisp successful. Bankstown City Bulls 6-0
7 min: A penalty following the restart, and the Bulls find themselves with a great chance to go back-to-back.
8 min: Barba tries to keep the ball alive on the last, but the last pass out to Winitana is ruled forward.
10 min: The Tigers have coughed the ball up fairly simply, handing the Bulls an excellent opportunity 25 out from the line.
13 min: Lewis attempts a 40/20, but Nekai sprints back to cut the ball off before it goes into touch.
15 min: Barba's long kick takes one roll too many, just trickling dead in-goal a fraction of a second before Barba got to it.
16 min: Two penalties in a row for the Tigers, and the Bulls are getting a talking to by referee Gee.
16 min: Webster spins out of a tackle and almost gets to the line, brought down in a desperate tackle just one metre out.
18 min: Great run back by Meaney after retrieving the kick, busting through three tackles in a 30 metre run.
19 min: Penalty against the Tigers for going through the ruck, and now the Tigers captain is getting a talking to from the ref.
20 min: Big pressure from the Tigers defence forces some sloppy passes from the Bulls, and the Tigers collect the ball and immediately go on the attack.
22 min: A terrible pass from dummy half is knocked on by Barba, and swooped upon by the Tigers who counter straight away.
23 min: Penalty against the Tigers and Mataka is on report after an attempted chicken wing tackle.
24 min: Massive hit from Schirnack has flattened Briggs and dislodged the ball.
25 min: A lovely pass from Lewis puts Callaway into open space and the Tigers are certain to score if the pass back in to Meaney isn't knocked on.
27 min: Ryan runs toward Crisp and fends away from him not once, not twice, but thrice before Crisp finally gets his man, but concedes 40 metres down the sideline in doing so.
30 min: Another lovely cut out pass from Lewis is knocked on by the outside backs with the line begging.
31 min: Crisp gets a 40/20 to give the Bulls back to back sets and a chance to extend their lead.
36 min: Lewis chips over the top for himself and almost regathers the ball, with the last bounce just coming forward off his fingertips.
HALF TIME It's half time here and the Tigers are all over the Bulls in every aspect of the game except the scoreboard, where it matters most. The Bulls hold onto an unconvincing 6-0 lead at the break, but had the Tigers been able to convert the majority of their chances, this game could very well be over.
40 min: The second half is underway!
41 min: Perfect start for the Bulls as they go 60 metres downfield before Barba puts in a perfectly weighted grubber that Meaney is forced to take dead.
42 min: Great goal line defence from the Tigers repels two and a half attacking sets before forcing a knock on by the Bulls.
46 min: John Kite is penalised for a late hit on Lewis, and the Tigers will have a full set just ten metres out from the line.
48 min: Callaway makes an absolute meal of cleaning up the ball in the in-goal, with Meaney saving the day by kicking it dead before Winitana gets to the ball.
50 min: Utai gets upended in a tackle, and Crisp will take the kick at goal to give the Bulls an eight point buffer.
50 min: PENALTY GOAL Bankstown City Bulls
Bankstown City Bulls 8-0
56 min: Both teams appear to have dropped their intensity a bit in the second half, with neither team really going for any big plays, seemingly just going through the motions.
58 min: The Bulls go on a threatening raid down the left touchline and look certain to score before Lewis intercepts the ball and races away, however places a foot on the touchline and is called back.
59 min: Barba loops a pass out to Taylor who loses the ball forward with the line wide open.
60 min: Penalty against the Tigers for incorrectly playing the ball, and the Bulls will take another shot at goal.
62 min: PENALTY GOAL Bankstown City Bulls Crisp nails it from 12 out and the Bulls push out to a ten point lead with 18 to go. Bankstown City Bulls 10-0
66 min: TRY Bankstown City Bulls The Tigers lose the ball close to the line and Barba swoops and races away untouched for the try that will seal this win for the Bulls. Conversion attempt by Brent Crisp unsuccessful. Bankstown City Bulls 14-0
68 min: Well, maybe this game isn't over! Following the restart, Farlow launched himself at Briggs like a missile, jarring the ball loose. Farlow, however, has come off worse for wear and is being taken off the field on the medicab.
67 min: The Tigers are once again unable to capitalise on their great field position as they have a pass called forward.
69 min: TRY Bankstown City Bulls Barba intercepts Lewis's pass and runs away with the game for the Bulls. Conversion attempt by Brent Crisp successful. Bankstown City Bulls 20-0
73 min: TRY Bankstown City Bulls Barba has scored two and now he's set up the third of the second half, putting Williams into a huge hole down the sideline, before drawing the fullback and passing beautifully out to Taylor for the try. Conversion attempt by Brent Crisp successful. Bankstown City Bulls 26-0
76 min: Utai has put a huge shot on Lewis that has sent the young half flying back at least 5 metres.
77 min: TRY Bankstown City Bulls Barba has made the play of the day in stealing the ball out of Cowans hand, then running away for a hat trick in the grand final. Crisp now has a shot at goal to give him 300 points for the season. Conversion attempt by Brent Crisp successful. Bankstown City Bulls 32-0
FULL TIME It's full time here in the NSW Cup Final, and the Bankstown City Bulls have run away with the game in the last 15 minutes to defeat the Balmain Ryde Tigers 32 points to nil.
Congratulations Bankstown City Bulls - 2009 NSW Cup Champions!