WINGHAM won the club's first major Group Three Rugby League competition since 2003 when the Tigers upset Macleay Valley 14-10 in the pre-season final played at the Wingham Sporting Complex.
It was a tough final played on a slippery field following showers throughout the day. Wingham led 10-0 at the break but Macleay responded with two tries early in the second half to lock the scores up. The Mustangs appeared to be gaining momentum when Wingham responded with a try to Aaron Bakewell. This wasn't converted however, the Tigers showed resolve in defence to hold out the visitors and claim the match.
Despite the conditions the match was a gripping affair. Wingham's best were lock Ricki Tobi and fullback TJ Rudolph while the Bridge brothers, Tim in the centres and Matt at five-eighth, were sharp in attack.
Wingham's last success in Group Three was back in 2003 when they were first grade premiers. Stu Baker, this year's coach, was the mastermind behind that success. For the past two years Wingham has finished with the wooden spoon but they have shown enough to suggest in the pre-season that they'll be semi-final contenders this season.
Macleay reportedly have some firepower to come back into the side and should be among the front runners for higher honours this year. The Mustangs accounted for Old Bar 36-12 in the semi-final. Wingham upset premiers Wauchope 18-10 in the other semi. The Tigers finished the game with only 12 players after second rower This was Wauchope's first loss since 2012.
In the plate competition Port Sharks thumped Taree City 36-8 while Forster-Tuncurry and Port City drew 18-18. The Hawks would have played the Sharks in the final as they were the first try scorers, but forfeited citing a number of injuries.
The under 18 shield competition was won by Port Sharks who scored a late try to defeat Port City and win 12-10. The plate game between Wauchope and Macleay ended in a 12-12 draw with Wauchope being awarded the match as they were the first try scorers.
Earlier games saw Macleay defeat Taree City 10-0 while Wauchope accounted for Old Bar 18-14.