Last-gasp match winner caps off a classic thriller

TAMWORTH Public’s Classic Shield hopes remain alive after they denied Moree East with a late try in Friday’s Regional Final.

Tamworth's Hayden Michalski (left) and Alex Hawkins try to stop the progress of Moree's Mark Pegus during Friday's regional final. Mitch Watts is the player in cover. Photo: Gareth Gardner 010814GGB03

Tamworth's Hayden Michalski (left) and Alex Hawkins try to stop the progress of Moree's Mark Pegus during Friday's regional final. Mitch Watts is the player in cover. Photo: Gareth Gardner 010814GGB03

Half-back Vanda Erich snuck over virtually on the bell to seal a 22-18 win for the home side and push them into the inter-regional stage of the competition.

It was the final act of a pulsating game.

Moree opened the scoring just a couple of minutes in but then Tamworth Public got on a roll and got out to a 16-6 lead.

The visitors then had the momentum and scored two tries – the second with two minutes to go – to hit the front 18-16.

Knowing they needed to get the ball, Tamworth tried a short kick from the kick-off. 

“We put a short kick in and got the ball back,” stand-in coach Stuart Watts said.

“We hit it up for four and then got a penalty.”

They had a couple of taps before Erich went from hooker to score the match-winner.

Watts was the stand-in coach for the day with regular coach Kevin Squires tied up at school, and thought their defence was the key to them getting on top.

“They put a lot of pressure on, which meant they were turning the ball over,” Watts said.

“That pressure frustrated them.”

That frustration then led to penalties which gave them ball and field position.

Watts said they all played well but couldn’t go past Charlie Abra and Alex Hawkins.

Hawkins “really stuck it to them in the middle”.

Zac Follington also kicked three conversions in not the easiest of conditions. It was pretty windy.

It was a bit of a battle of opposites.

“We generally had the speed. They had the size,” Moree coach Josh Mawby said.

Size won out in the end.

Mawby felt their defence was what turned the game around for them after Tamworth had jumped out to that 10-point lead.

“I think our defence improved,” he said.

“There were some great hits by Mark Pegus.”

“He just stood up and it gave the boys confidence.”

The attack then came from that.

Pegus had a generally strong game.

Cody Picker was also outstanding.

He’s one of three Year 4s they have in the side and played about his size.

“He was tackling the biggest guys on there,” Mawby said.

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