The Thirlmere Roosters stormed out of the gates to book a major semi-final against Picton Magpies while Camden Rams ground out a tough win over Mittagong Lions in the first round of the Group 6 Rugby League finals series at the weekend.
The Roosters charged out of the blocks, with Thirlmere five-eighth Blake Sutton bagging three tries in the opening nine minutes to create an 18-0 lead. The Roosters kept the pressure on in the first half, bagging another two tries through captain/coach Jake Mullaney and backrower Jordan Tongahai.
Campbelltown’s lone first half highlight came from a Ihaia Kohonui try.
Campbelltown prop Aaron Sweeney was animated at the half-time break, urging his side to lift in the second term. His words seemed to work, with the Roos putting in a much better effort.
But Thirlmere never really let City back in the game and led 38-4 with 20 minutes remaining. The Roos’ three late tries (to Josh Burke, Kohonui and PJ Leifi) were nothing more than a consolation.
Meanwhile, Camden held off Mittagong as conditions deteriorated rapidly in their second half.
Scoring was at a premium in the sudden-death elimination semi-final, with just two tries in the first half.
Camden’s hard-working prop Ben Weir scored after 13 minutes, giving the vocal Rams fans a 6-0 lead to enjoy.
The second try came 5 minutes before the break as experienced lock Dean Rysko crossed over, giving Camden a 12-0 halftime lead.
Tough prop PJ Thornton scored for the Lions 17 minutes after play resumed to make it 12-4. Camden managed another try through Steele Brown, following injuries and reshuffles to their team, and at 16-4 the match appeared over for Mittagong.
However, the players, and the weather, turned against the locals, and the Lions charged back into the game. Aiden Menzies scored with 9 minutes to go, and at 16-10, Camden got very nervous.
A late penalty goal to Jake Plunkett got Camden home 18-10, giving them a minor semifinal berth against the Roos next weekend.