FORSTER-Tuncurry may have sunk Wingham’s Group Three Rugby League final five aspirations with a gritty 18-12 win on a sodden Wingham Sporting Complex.
This is the Hawks’ first success of the season. It was also a costly loss for the Tigers as they have now slipped out of the top five, although they only trail fifth placed Old Bar by a point. However, Saturday’s game against Port Macquarie looms as a must-win for Wingham.
Steady rain fell throughout the first grade fixture and this made ball control at best difficult, at worst, impossible. However, the Hawks looked the more enthusiastic and adapted to the conditions better than Wingham.
Halfback Ryley Glover shone in the gloom for the Hawks. The diminutive number seven controlled Forster’s play and marshaled his forwards in attack. He was supported by interchange forward Liam Simon, who ran often and hard and troubled the Wingham defence. They were the best two players on the park.
Wingham went into the game without halfback Trent Green, who was unavailable. The Tigers badly missed his direction, particularly in attack. Both sides struggled to make headway in the opening 20 minutes of the game and a 0-0 scoreline at the break looked a good bet. However, rookie five-eighth Tahj Wood shrugged off tackles to post the opening try of the game and Michael Bailey added the conversion to give Wingham a 6-0 lead. But the Hawks had the better of the last section of the first half. A Glover kick was fumbled by Bailey and lock Chris Simon toed the ball through then regathered to open the side’s points. Glover added the extras. Crucially right on halftime Simon worked his way over for a try and while the kick was astray, the Hawks had an invaluable four point lead at the turnaround.
The scoreboard attendants weren’t bothered in the second half until the 20 minute mark when centre Ben Murray took a cut out pass from Glover and punched his way through tackles for an unconverted try. The Hawks looked to have sealed the win when centre Beau Lowry scored a fine 50 metre individual try and an 18-6 lead in worsening weather looked to be enough.
However, Wingham finally managed to mount some pressure and winger Aaron Bakewell dived over in the corner for Bailey to land a great conversion to narrow the gap to six.
The Tigers had plenty of opportunities in the last 10 minutes, but managed to cough up possession deep in Forster territory. Forster held on and so were able to sing the club song after a win for the first time in 2017.