Today was finals day for Division 2 rugby on the North Shore. Lindfield played UNSW in the colt’s competition, Newport played Blue Mountains in 2nd grade and Brothers lined-up against Newport for the final of the Barraclough Cup.
Brothers and Newport had met twice during the season and Newport had come out victorious on both occasions so they had the upper hand walking in to today’s contest on the T.G.Millner Field, the home ground to Eastwood Rugby club. There was a good crowd and the conditions were bright and sunny.
Newport had the first attempt at points with an early penalty kick just inside the Brother’s half. The kick didn’t have the legs to go over however they quickly followed it up with a brave attempt at a drop goal from just outside 22 but it went wide of its mark.
Brothers returned the onslaught with a good run up field and were held on the try line for an age. Eventually, good ruck work saw the ball turned over and cleared by Newport.
The breakthrough came when Newport were penalised for offside on their 22 and Brother’s goal attempt gave them their first 3 points.
Newport returned the favour two minutes later with their own penalty goal.
This was followed by a long period of play when Newport had Brothers pinned in their own 22 which led to frustration from winger Hugh Baillie among others, eventually conceding a penalty which was converted pushing Newport into the lead and the Brother’s boys earned a dressing down from captain William Hannam.
A poor tackle from Brothers Jone Tagivetaua right on half time earned himself ten minutes in the sin bin and left Newport square in front of the posts for what should have been an easy 3 points, but it was sliced right of the posts.
Half time Newport 6:3 Brothers.
Off almost the first play on the second half Newport’s flanker tackled Brothers fly half Michael Black in the air almost knocking him out and earning a red card in the process. This fired-up Brothers pushing deep in to Newport territory on the restart.
Newport returned the action spreading the ball out to their right winger. Newport had a good period of possession ending on a line out infringement (not straight) but quickly won the ball back, making a long slow move up the field.
By now it was clear to see the two different styles of play; Brothers are exciting and fast, Newport is determined and methodical. Neither side were going to give any quarter today.
A skyed ball brought Brothers Viliame Ratu and Newport’s left winger together at speed, leaving both seeing stars, but both able to shake it off and keep playing.
Then came 5 minutes of magic from Newport; good phases played out, working their way down the ground. But nothing came of it.
An offside by Newport in front of their posts with 3 minutes to go was missed by Brothers much to the roar of the Newport fans.
Brothers right lock Charlie O’Connor made good ground up the field and then made a beautiful flick behind to full back Benjamin Borg who almost had Brothers over line, but knocked on.
A subsequent offside by Newport was kicked home by Vincent Byrne drawing the scores equal.
You could tell it was almost time at the end of a grand final as there were bodies scattered around the field suffering cramps and exhaustion, but an equal score meant 10 mins each way extra time.
Brothers made some great combinations of play inside the Newport 22 and should have capitalised with a try but they were caught for having a foot in touch as they charged up the right wing.
The resulting throw in to Brothers by Byrne went very long to the back of the line out. The play turned in to a maul which was pushed over the line and scored by right flanker Craig Thomas. Converted by Benjamin Borg, Brothers were now seven points ahead in the first period of extra time.
Not to be outdone, Newport spread the ball out wide off the restart and charged their right wing for a try in the corner by their fly half. Converted, Newport had the scores equal again as the whistle went for the end of the first period of extra time.
It was announced over the speaker system, if there was no difference in score at end of second period of extra time, Newport and Brothers would be joint premiers.
Brothers almost clinched the match with a big scrum on Newport line which allowed their number 8 to bust through only to have the side penalised for sheparding.
At the end of the second ten minutes, the scores were still equal and the sides were completely exhausted. Neither side could be separated and so at 13:13 Brothers and Newport were declared joint premiers in the Barraclough cup.
Great match. Really enjoyed it.
(At the time of publication Newport’s team sheet is not available, therefore player names are omitted).