TAREE Panthers ended Red Rovers’ hopes of winning three consecutive Group Three Junior Rugby League grand finals with a commanding 36-8 win in the match played at Wingham.
Rovers had everything in their favour after playing consecutive games in the last month while Panthers had only played one game in seven weeks.
The match started at a fast pace with Panthers playing some exciting football to cross for the first try to front rower Trai Blair to lead 4-0. The second try came through hard running lock Ryan Long, who broke through three tackles to run 50 metres, beating the fullback to cross in the corner to make it 10-0.
Panthers continued to dominate with a clever kick across field. Braydon Bungie jumped above the pack, regathered and scored to score to make it 16-0. Braydon badly broke his arm in the process.
Rovers than hit back through fullback Jake Saunders to make it 16-4 at the break.
Taree struck after the resumption through Cody Ferguson to lead 22-4 before Rovers worked hard to score through Drey Mercy to edge closer at 22-8. Panthers then started to find a weakness in Rovers’left edge and with Jarrad Gibson heavily involved. This resulted in John Roberts crossing in the corner to make it 26-8. Panthers again went down the left edge with some great ball movement and Gibson kicked and re-gathered to out pace the cover to cross in the corner against his old club to make it 30-8. Panthers again went down the left and Ryan Long broke through the line to cross for his second try right just before time front rower and captain Samual Burnes stepped up and slotted the goal to make it 36-8.
Special mention to backs Hayden Essery, Jake Ferris, Malachi Walker, John Roberts, Ethan White, Jarrad Gibson for working hard all day and shutting down Rovers’ dangerous outside backs. This went a long way to Panthers winning the game.
Forwards Sam Burnes, Trai Blair, Ryan Young, Matt Longsdale, Ryan Long and Zac Power led the way and proved way too strong for the rovers pack.
The bench consisting of Dane Hinton, Cody Ferguson, Lachlan Brown, Zackery Lewis, Ethan White and Kye Andrews were excellent and provided the spark
Special mention to Jake Saunders and Drey Mercy, who were Rovers’ best and stopped trying.