Southern Beaches coach Johan Laurens joked that he had a couple of stroke scares in his team’s last-gasp 22-20 win against Maitland at Marcellin Park on Saturday.
OVER THE LINE: Southern Beaches. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
The visitors prevailed in a thrillingNewcastle and Hunter Rugby Union season opener after reclaiming the lead from the Blacks with a try scored on the brink of full-time by substitute and league convert James Vaka.
After receiving an unexpected penalty in front of the posts Beaches opted to strive for victory rather than level proceedings with a gift three points and it paid dividends whenthe 2015 Lakes premiership winner madethe most of an overlap.
“I reckonI had two strokes along the way,” Laurens said.
“And I keep getting greyer with games like that.”
Prior to sealing the result, Beaches hadn’t scored in the second half after leading 17-7 at the main break.
Delore brothers Michael and Andrew crossed for Beaches during the first half along with prop Matthew Lanzini while New Zealand recruit Travis Brooke was the only player to make inroads for Maitland in the opening 40 minutes.
Brooke’s double was secured early in the second half and was followed by back-to-back penalty goals from insidecentre Jye Estatheo, giving the Blacks a 20-17 advantage approaching the dying stages.
“We’d been going really well up until half-time, but I think the boys got a little complacent after that,” Laurens said.
“The Blacks had a different idea and really took it to us in the second half.
“In the end we adjusted and started getting back to our systems and processes, but by that point we were trailing.”
Beachesretain the Hawthorne Cup after holding it at the end of last season.
Over at No.2 Sportsground and Wanderers led from start to finish in a close battle with Merewether Carlton, eventually triumphing 19-10.
Two Blues coach Viv Passi said it was a typical first round encounter with plenty of mistakes, but he was most pleased with debutants Nikolas Mylonas, Douglas McKillop, Carel Strydom, Gus Locke and Josh McCormack.
“They all came in and did a good job,” Passi said.
Elsewhere,University edged out Nelson Bay 16-10 at Bernie Curran Oval, two-time defending premiers Hamilton ran in eighttries as part of a 52-15 demolition of The Waratahs at Passmore Oval while Lake Macquarie eased past Singleton 39-15 at Walters Park.
LADDER: Hamillton, Lake Macquarie, Southern Beaches 5, Wanderers, University 4, Maitland, Nelson Bay 1, Merewether, SIngleton, The Waratahs 0.
Meanwhilethe NSW Country women’s team, featuring 10 Hunter representatives, finished runner-up at theSouthern States Championships in Wagga Wagga on Saturday.
The Corellas, who next play Sydney in Pittwater on April 23 before nationals on the Gold Coast in May,beat Victoria 49-12 after going down 12-0 to the ACT.
PHOTOS: Wanderers v Merewether Carlton at No.2 Sportsground
FRESH: Fogarty returns to Greens a new player after state sevens
SEASON PREVIEW: Who will win the 2017 premiership?