Picton Magpies beat the Mittagong Lions 36-4 in the 2014 Group 6 grand final in Victoria Park today to make it back to back premierships.
A large and vocal crowd was in attendance under fine and warm skies, as Mittagong attempted to return serve after last year’s heartbreaking loss to the Magpies at Camden. The Magpies began the stronger early on, with the home side having the first chance to attack after five minutes, but were unable to convert their opportunity.
However, it didn’t take them long to recover from their wasted opportunity, with Michael Lett scoring the first of his three tries after nine minutes, following an attacking kick on the last tackle being left to bounce, with Lett being in position to score. Mittagong struck back through Mitch Eccleston on 20 minutes, after he worked through the Picton defensive line, to level the scores. Lett bagged his second eight minutes later, after getting a rebound from a kick on the last tackle. Picton led 10-4 but weren’t in control of the match at this stage.
Picton fullback Don Thompson scored on the stroke of halftime, after a nice run down the left hand side, giving the Magpies a 14-4 lead at the break.
Mittagong struggled to find any form in the second half, especially when captain/coach Scott Borg came off the field early in the term with an injury. He didn’t return to the field and this hurt the Lions’ chances of winning the match. Blake Matthews opened the scoring after 18 minutes of play in the second half, with the Magpies now leading 18-4, and both sides had a player sent to the sin bin shortly before the try, creating more space on the field. Then the Magpies put their stamp on the game with two quick tries inside 10 minutes, through forwards Kiel Shepherd, and Lett with his third of the day.
Retiring Picton front rower Chris Bowers snagged a late try in his final game for the Magpies, to secure the victory for the locals.
Mittagong couldn’t complete the fairytale for retiring prop Robbie Payne, who was visibly shattered after the game, knowing he couldn’t complete the dream ending to his long career. Borg was also inconsolable after the game, and wasn’t available for a comment, but would have been disappointed in the outcome from his side, especially in the second half, against a rampant Picton side. Picton coach Gary Dowse was delighted with the result, and admitted he didn’t believe his side was capable of a win like this, but thought he could manage a second victory as coach. Dowse said Lett was outstanding for his side, but credited the whole side for their effort, along with captain Bryce Poisel, who was returning from a dislocated shoulder in the Major Semi Final.
Lower grade grand finals, under 18-2 – Warragamba Wombats 36 Mt Annan Knights 4, Second Division – Narellan Jets 28 Picton Magpies 16, Under 18-1 – Camden Rams 28 Narellan Jets 6, Reserve Grade – Mittagong Lions 22 Thirlmere Roosters 16.
BY MIKE SHEAN