Wauchope Blues into Group Three grand final

A CONVERTED try to representative prop Carlos Kohu Martin moments from fulltime enabled Wauchope to defeat Macleay Valley 34-30 in a sensational Group Three Rugby League major semi-final at Wauchope.

The Blues will now be shooting for a hat-trick of premierships in the grand final at Wauchope on Sunday, September 14. Macleay meet Old Bar in the final next Sunday at Wauchope.

However, the Mustangs were nearly the first into the decider. Macleay gained a 30-28 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the contest following a converted try to fullback Jeremy Taylor after a kick from halfback Anthony Cowan, who had a great game.

Play then ebbed and flowed as the Blues looked to regain the initiative. But just when it appeared Macleay would hold on the Blues received a penalty deep in their own half. The kick was touched by a Macleay player en-route to the touchline, necessitating a scrum. Wauchope won the ball and virtually on the last play of the day Kohu Martin worked his way over, referee Cory Richardson confirming the try after speaking to a touch judge.

It was a classic confrontation. The scores were locked at 12-12 at halftime and there was never any more than four points between the sides in a fluctuating second half.

Tall centre Beau White scored two second half tries for Wauchope in a dominant display while Macleay centre Nigel Hookey was dangerous in attack for the Mustangs. Halfback Aaron Ison did some clever things in attack for the Blues while diminutive hooker Dean Hurrell was sharp out of dummy half.

Macleay opened the scoring when winger David Davis was given space down the touch line and he kicked infield for hooker Dennis Smith to pounce on the ball. Cowan landed the goal. Hurrell replied for Wauchope with a try from dummy half and Sam Watts added the goal.

Jacob Smith was over for Macleay off a Cowan kick but Ison threw a smart pass to second rower Matt Bird and he punched his way through the line. Watts kicked the conversion and Wauchope led for the first time at 12-10. However, a penalty by Cowan rounded off the scoring for the half.

A Cowan try off a Smith break and the subsequent goal to the halfback saw Macleay regain the lead but White responded for Wauchope when he was too strong for the defence. White went high for the ball from a kick to post his second and Wauchope enjoyed a four point cushion with the conversion. But there was still plenty of fight in the Mustangs and Jacob Smith collected a great kick on the fifth tackle to cross for Cowan to add the goal and it was 24-22 to Macleay.

It was Wauchope's turn to regain the lead with a try to Dustin Prosser while Reuben Trick landed the angled goal and suddenly the Blues were up 28-24 with 16 minutes on the clock. But another Cowan kick paid dividends for the Mustangs when Jeremey Taylor was first to the ball. Cowan's goal put Macleay in front by two, setting up the thrilling finale.