Minor premiers Moree Boomerangs won the Group 19 Under 18 grand final in a thriller against Glen Innes.
Clinging to a two-point advantage late in the match, Moree finally put the game away when five-eighth Brandon McGrady stepped past a couple of tired defenders to score between the posts with two minutes left.
Moree scored first when prop Cody Duncan charged over from short range before both sides settled into a real arm wrestle with play sweeping from end to end. Moree’s big prop Michael Jerrard was sinbinned and Magpies fullback Robbie Guest was held up over the line. Then Boomies half Jarome Haines caught a high pass, threw a huge dummy and skipped clear to score near the posts. Jason Saunders’ conversion took the home team out to a 12- point advantage.
But Glen immediately hit back when they gained possession near Moree’s line from the kick-off and Nathan Marzulli raced 15 metres to score from dummy half. Half Jayden Ehsman added the conversion and Moree led 12-6.
Marzulli made a nice break near halfway and was supported by Jesse Mosman who found winger Jack Miller for an excellent try. Ehsman levelled the scores as Jerrard returned from the sinbin.
Both teams attacked strongly before the break and both had players held up over the line. Soon after Moree looked certain to score before Glen centre Chris Pedlow made a great try-saving tackle and scores were still level at the break.
Moree fullback Tyrell Smith scored first in the second half and Saunders’ sideline conversion crept over the bar for an 18-12 lead. Soon after, referee Corben Kelly lost patience with Jerrard and dismissed him from the field leaving Moree with 12 men.
Glen enjoyed a run of possession and with 13 minutes remaining, five-eighth Jay Gallagher stepped back inside and fought his way to the line. Ehsman’s kick levelled the scores again.
Ehsman then made a nice break and Gallagher was strong close to the line to send Glen out to a 22-18 lead.
With three minutes remaining, second rower Brody Johnston was on the end of a sweeping movement to score right in the corner. Saunders’ magnificent conversion never looked like missing and Moree took the lead 24-22.
Glen kicked out on the full in a last-ditch attempt to steal possession and Moree made them pay with man-of-the-match McGrady’s try.