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Bilambil Jets Win 2011 Bycroft Cup in Golden-Point Thriller

A Grade: Jets 34 def. Seahawks 30

Plenty of hype and anticipation surrounded the first grade decider. It was the one everybody was waiting for.

Local rivals Bilambil and Tugun had met on four occasions already in 2011, all of which were won by Bilambil but all of which were some of the tightest, most physically draining matches seen this season.

Tugun came bolting out of the gates with halfback Danny Kerr making a long range break inside the first set of six.

That break gave them the field position to allow backrower Nathan Annand to score the opening try in just the second minute.

The Seahawks continued to control the game early before picking up their second try in unusual circumstances.

In the 19th minute a scuffle broke out in mid-field between Bilambil’s Jed Watson and Tugun’s Anthony Watts with players from both sides rushing in to assist in the mêlée, meanwhile play continued and Seahawks winger Ben Willis ran the length of the field to score.

The try was awarded giving the Jets a 12-0 lead while Watson was put on report and he and Watts were given ten minutes in the bin.

That incident seemed to spring the Jets into action as the unrelenting go forward and physical defense they are known for returned.

Props Graham Smallwood, Mitch Spackman and Wade Hall were outstanding and on the back of their go-forward the Jets started getting on top.

Two tries to Corey Blair and one to Jimmy Armstrong between the 28th and 37th minute got the Jets a two point lead, but an incredible individual try on the buzzer to Tugun’s Anthony Bartolo saw the Seahawks lead 18-14 at the break.

Bilambil regained the lead 9 minutes after the break when Tyler Chadburn charged over from dummy half but Tugun quickly regained the ascendancy.

Tugun’s forwards, led by backrowers Anthony Flores, Nathan Annand and Anthony Bartolo, were simply outstanding and after tries to Annand and Phil Dumelow gave them a 10 point lead it looked like Bilambil would again fall agonizingly short of a premiership.

But as they have done on so many occasions this year the Jets found a way back into the game and Dan Kaufman’s 65th minute try was the catalyst.

The margin was cut to four and once again the Bilambil side found its groove. Ten minutes later James Marcus’ try leveled the scores and the game went into golden point.

After three minutes of extra time Bilambil’s Paul Rolls rolled the dice by spreading the ball wide to centre Luke McNamara who put Dan Kaufman away on a 30 metre premiership winning sprint down the sideline. He scored the try and the Bilambil fans went wild.

Jets prop Graham Smallwood was presented with the inaugural Pat Shepherdson Trophy for man-of-the-match.

Jets coach Jim Lenihan was elated after the game and praised the determination of his players to fight back from another seemingly unwinnable position.

“Looking back on it there were times in the games where we really shouldn’t have won,” he said.

“But whether we should have won it or not, at the end of the day we’ve won it and that was through determination and that’s something we just keep having every week.”

“Our front row, Graham Smallwood, Spacko (Mitch Spackman) and Wade (Hall) just kept carting the ball forward for us and I think they’re the ones who turned the game.”

The premiership win is Bilambil’s first since rejoining the Gold Coast Rugby League in 2007 and helped soothe the heartbreaking loses of 2009 and 2010.

“(Winning the premiership) means a lot to the people down in the valley because it’s only a small little club and they stick tight (together) and it’s something they really, really wanted,” Lenihan said.

“You can tell by the way all the crowd has hung around what support the players have what it really means to them.”

Disappointed Seahawks coach Selwyn Apanui was still extremely proud of the effort his young team put in and is confident they will only get better in years to come.

“It’s something I’ve said throughout the year that we’re still a couple years in the making,” he said.

“Most of our side came out of the 19s and last year’s reserve grade side. We’ve still got a lot of building to do so now we’ve got to sit down and start again (for next year).”

While it was a Jets prop who claimed the Pat Shepherdson Trophy Apanui believes had the result gone the other way his own prop Sam Rowlings would have claimed the award.

“If we had of kicked that field goal (and won) he would have got that trophy (for man of the match) hands down,” he said.

“He’s probably been our best all year and he’ll go close to winning best player in the comp (at the GCRL awards ceremony).”

“There are a couple guys in our side that just don’t deserve to be in this comp. We may lose them to state league clubs next season but we’re all the better for their experience.”

Bilambil Jets 34

T: C.Blair 2 , D.Kaufman 2 , J.Armstrong , T.Chadburn , J.Marcus

G: T.Chadburn 3

def.

Tugun Seahawks 30

T: N.Annand 2 , A.Bartolo , P.Dumelow , B.Willis

G: D.Kerr  5

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