Balmain hosted Newcastle for the final round of the Jersey Flegg and S.G. Ball comp yesterday, on a beautiful day at Leichhardt oval.
The first game saw Balmain?s Ball side put on close to their finest game of the season only to be defeated by a more committed and disciplined Newcastle side.
Balmain opened the scoring in the 13th minute when halfback Dean Caldwell put fullback Mark Bentwitch into a gap to score under the posts, Ritchie Nicholas converted to take the tiges to six points to nil.
Newcastle hit back quickly however, centre Cooper crossed in the 20th minute and Captain Scott Dureau followed 3 minutes later. Sam Wooden was able to convert both tries bringing the score to twelve points to six in favour of the visiting team.
The Tigers regained the lead by the end of the half when Bentwitch showed great speed to score his second try of the match and Dwayne Francis crossed in the corner minutes later, both attempts at conversion were unsuccessful and the teams went into the break with Balmain leading 14 points to 12.
Newcastle came out firing in the second half and although Balmain defended well the Knights' class showed through and hooker Sainty finally crossed in the 45th minute followed by classy 5/8th Leigh Abel who ducked through 3 Tigers defenders to score under the posts. Both trys were converted by Dureau giving the Knights an eight point lead.
The Tigers looked set for a comeback when centre Adam Falcone scored under the posts putting them within four points of the Knights however poor discipline put an end to their chances and a string of penalties and the sin-binning of Captain Dean Caldwell, Centre David Pangai and Prop Ewan Cameron, all of whom had been among the Tigers best, and all within a ten minute period saw Newcastle score two easy tries to finish the game 36 points to 20.
Jersey Flegg was a very tough game between two equally matched teams, the Knights opened the scoring when a Balmain kick was charged down allowing Murray Parker to score, the conversion taken successfully by Tighe.
Balmain leveled the scores ten minutes later when Fullback Simon Greally raced 40m to score under the posts and the try was converted by Todd Barrow. Not long after Balmain were awarded a penalty 20m out from the Newcastle line and halfback John Nash, choosing to take a quick tap, caught the Knights defences asleep and scored under the posts.
Three minutes out from halftime Newcastle winger Nathan Mcloughlin scored off a kick from talented 5/8th Brad Tighe, Tighe was unable to convert and at halftime the scoreboard read Balmain 12 Newcastle 10.
The Tigers bombed a certain try in the 41st minute when Captain Rob Farah chip kicked and regathered before passing the ball to prop Mick Harper who was set to score under the posts before dropping the ball. However two minutes later Luke Thompson scored off a John Nash kick, the converted try extending Balmain?s lead to eight points.
Five minutes later bench player Ryan Woo crossed for the Knights, lock Riley Brown and replacement Snowden following soon after. Only the second try was converted and so Newcastle gained a six point lead with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Jamie Nowland leveled the scores with 6 points to go following a fantastic run by big prop Jared Warren who dragged 3 Newcastle defenders 20m before offloading. In the final 5 minutes the Tigers threw everything they had at Newcastle but were unable to cross the line and Barrow?s last minute attempt at field goal went wide ending the game with a deserving 24 all draw.
Best player for the Tigers was lock Bronson Harrison in his best game of the year so far, at times he seemed to break the line almost at will and if he takes that form into the finals he would seem a certainty for further representative honours this year. Captain and hooker Rob Farah was also dangerous as always and back rower Luke Thompson put in yet another fine game.