OPINION: Jacob McMaster
THE Bega Roosters didn’t win the Group 16 premiership on Sunday, but they deserved to.
A superior kicking game saw the Roosters hold a narrow two- point lead for almost half the match against the Moruya Sharks.
The Sharks were rampaging favourites in the competition.
With a huge forward pack and a couple of swift runners waiting in the wings it’s hard to deny their ability to play football.
However, the Roosters took everything the Sharks threw at them, got up and gave it right back.
It was a landslide of penalties and costly handovers that saw the Roosters’ chance of victory eventually slip away from them in the dying minutes of the game.
Except for one last ditch effort down the left wing that came agonisingly close to the line just on the final siren.
Moruya came out as predicted, big and strong, its front row bristling with huge men, but Bega jumped on them without hesitation.
As the old addage goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall and it was certainly the case on Sunday as time and again Bega toppled the Sharks attack and sent them slamming into the ground.
The Sharks were able to post the first points, but it was through a clever run on the wing rather than a stampede of big men up the middle.
And from the angle they were unable to convert the try.
Bega put together its own clever effort and even from just one metre in at touch laid on the extras to lead 6-4.
Dayne Burton ran hard, as he always does with plenty of support from Wayne Northey, Hayden Parbery and Scott Fuller.
Meanwhile, Lachlan Sund’s kicking game was second-to-none.
Clever chip kicks deep into the left pocket repeatedly saw the Sharks stumbling and even, on occasion, giving up possession.
It was at these times the Roosters looked assured of scoring, “try time!” the crowd would yell, but twice over the line the Roosters were ruled to have knocked on and play was handed straight back to Moruya.
It was on the back of a brilliant run by the Roosters that play was deep into Sharks’ territory, but an untimely penalty saw possession go to Moruya who surged up the ruck and scored, knocking Bega from the lead.
At 8-6 in Moruya’s favour there was still a very tangible chance for the Roosters, but again their efforts to get across the line were penalised and turned against them.
However, the Roosters resolve never swayed.
Runs by the wingers Craig Dunham and Lee Fuller never cease to impress, while Ryan Apps and Grant Jessop kept morale high among players.
Bega’s resilience was apparent, despite some of the Sharks becoming physical a number of times, the Roosters kept their composure.
The Roosters finally struck back, but so did the Sharks, andwith a 14-10 score line in favour of Moruya the game looked all but over.
A final effort by the Roosters with about 15 seconds to play was denied when Moruya was able to knock a loose ball over the dead-ball line.
In spite of penalties piling up against them and being on the receiving end of some rough play, the Roosters stuck to their honest football.
Moruya may walk away with the trophy, but the Roosters were the better team on the day.