The Gosford Kariong under 14(2) and under 10(3) rugby league teams went agonizingly close to joining the clubs high-flying under 12(3)’s in qualifying for this season’s grand finals, before both were narrowly edged out on a drama charged day at Bateau Bay.
The Ed Johnson coached Storm U10(3)’s fought back magnificently from an early 12-0 deficit against minor premiers Erina, before building a handy 24 to 16 lead midway through the second half.
Unfortunately, the game then turned on two technical penalties given against Gosford while they were in possession of the ball, and the talented Eagles took full advantage of their good fortune, wresting back the advantage to secure a 32 to 24 victory.
Fetineni Aho was the star turn of the match; crossing for three tries, kicking a goal and being everywhere in defence for Gosford, in what was a thrilling game of junior rugby league.
Two hours later, on the adjoining field, the Storm U14(2)’s suffered a similar fate, when they fell agonizingly short of toppling the highly fancied Budgewoi Bulldogs.
Sickness, holidays and suspension saw Gosford without a host of their regular players for the grand final qualifier, and they were forced to elevate a trio of under 13’s boys to help fill the gaps.
The Storm scrambled manfully during the opening half, and a determined solo try scored by skipper, Jake Martin, just before the break, saw the teams head to their respective huddles at six-a-piece.
Starved of possession early in the second half, the Storm conceded three consecutive tries, and with the Bulldogs jumping to a 22-6 lead, it appeared as if the blue and whites were well on their way to securing a grand final berth.
The battlers from Narara had other ideas however, and tries to, Michael Porter, off yet another Jake Martin line break, and then to, Gokhan Emeli, who charged over from close range, pulled the score line back to 22-18.
Time ebbed away as Gosford feverishly attacked the Budgewoi line in search of a last gasp winner.
The fulltime siren and some resolute Bulldogs defence ultimately thwarted the Storms’ brave 2017 challenge.
The narrow losses suffered by both the U10s and U14s, leave the Gosford Kariong U12(3)s as the club’s sole grand final representative following their 34-24 victory over Wyong in the major semi-final.
The Storm will start as warm favourites in the decider; a rematch with the Roos, on their home patch at Morry Breen Oval, Kanwal, due to kick off at 8am on Saturday September 9.
Media release, Sep 4
Andrew Starke, Gosford Kariong Storm Rugby League Football Club