A TRY to five-eighth Kurt Lewis eight minutes before fulltime enabled Old Bar to secure third place on the Group Three Rugby League competition ladder with an 18-16 win over Port Sharks at Old Bar.-
The Pirates will now meet second placed Macleay Valley in the preliminary semi-final on Sunday while Port tackles Wingham in the elimination match on Saturday at Port Macquarie.-
Port clawed back from a 12-0 deficit in the first half to grab a 16-12 lead by midway through the second stanza. The Sharks then received a penalty virtually in front of the posts but opted to go for the tap instead of a goal. It was a strange decision given that a draw would have been enough for Port to claim third spot on points differential.-
Steady rain fell throughout the encounter making conditions slippery, although the handling from both sides was surprisingly good. In the main the clash was dominated by forwards even though it was the mercurial Lewis who eventually provided the game breaker. The defence was tough with Old Bar captain-coach Danny Russell bruising several Sharks with some hard front on tackles.-
Second rower Jai Simon and prop Rumone Jackson worked hard for the Pirates although Simon was given a 10 minute spell in the sin bin during the second half by referee Barry Murray. Port centre Oral Monaghan also spent 10 in the confessional in a separate incident. -
The Sharks applied the early pressure but the Pirates were first on the board when Jackson brushed off defenders after taking an inside pass and surging over the line. Lewis added the goal. Lewis then split the line before passing to fleet footed centre Al McDonald who crossed for Old Bar's second try. Lewis bought up the dozen with the conversion. But the Sharks slowly fought back and smart hooker Jake Flanagan was over from dummy half and the goal to Dave Geary reduced the margin to six. Chain passing then resulted in winger Liam Potter crossing out wide to make the score 12-10 at halftime.-
The Sharks hit the lead in the second half when a Ben Cudmore break resulted in Ethan McKenna scored under the posts and Geary's goal made it 16-12.-
Just when it looked as though the Sharks would hold on Lewis produced the bit of magic and the Pirates were able to clinch the win and third place.
In other results Forster-Tuncurry upset minor premiers Wauchope 20-18 while Macleay Valley thrashed Taree City 56-20. Port Breakers ended Wingham's hopes of finishing fourth with a 34-28 win at Port Macquarie.
There'll be semi-final action on both days next weekend, with the elimination semis at Port on Saturday and the preliminary semis at Kempsey on Sunday.