Could Oakdale be the dark horse of the 2019 premiership?
That will be a question Group Six rugby league pundits will be asking after the Workers came from behind to defeat Thirlmere in a thriller on Sunday afternoon.
Oakdale is now just one point out of the top five, but it could finish as high as fourth if it maintains momentum in the last two rounds of the home and away season.
As MIKE SHEAN reports, the 28-23 win at Thirlmere Sportsground was off the back of a very courageous performance by Oakdale.
The Roosters hit the ground running, establishing an 18-0 lead before the Workers knew what hit them.
Roosters captain coach Jake Mullaney scored the opening try of the match after just two minutes.
They added a second to five eighth Dayne Craig on 15 minutes to skip away to a 12-0 lead and when they made it 18-0 with a third, the home fans must have sat back safe in the knowledge this game was in the bag.
Then momentum changed and Oakdale scored their first try of the afternoon to centre Josh Burke, who ended up with a hat-trick.
When prop Craig Field scored the first of his double just before halftime for an 18- 8 scoreboard it was game on.
Field scored his second try of the day six minutes after play resumed.
Poor kicking meant the Workers did not convert any of their tries and were still trailing by six points, 18-12.
But the writing was on the wall for the home side, despite the Workers being down to 14 men in the second half, following injuries to Blake Sutton and Addison Demetriou.
Mitchell Gough, who moved from the second row to fullback following Sutton’s ankle injury, was damaging from the back, and scored a nice try 15 minutes into the second half to put Workers level after Burke’s sideline conversion.
Burke then added his second try to put them in front – by four points – for the first time in the match and with 20 minutes to go.
But the match was far from over and when Allan Shipley scored in the corner for Thirlmere the teams were level once again on the scoreboard.
Jake Mullaney then kicked a field goal with eight minutes to go, but the Workers weren’t to be denied.
Hat trick hero Burke crossed for his third try and the lead, which the Workers managed to hold on to until the hooter.
The other results from Round 16 saw Picton scrape past The Oaks 18-14 at Dudley Chesham Oval, as the Magpies claimed third position over the Tigers.
Camden were too strong for Campbelltown City, winning 60-16 at Harvey Shephard Field, giving them a three point lead atop the ladder.
RESULTS – FIRST GRADE
The Oaks Tigers 14 Picton Magpies 18;
Camden Rams 60 Campbelltown City 16;
Thirlmere Roosters 23 Oakdale Workers 28.
Narellan and Mittagong – bye
Ladder – Camden 29; Thirlmere 26; Picton 23; The Oaks, Narellan 19; Oakdale 18; Mittagong 14; Campbelltown City 6.
The Oaks 4 Picton 36;
Camden 42 Campbelltown City 4;
Thirlmere 58 Oakdale 2;
Moss Vale Dragons 12 Narellan Jets 58.
Mt Annan Oakdale Knights 24 Picton 26;
Moss Vale 2 Narellan 104.
Camden 46 Moss Vale 0;
Thirlmere 46 Picton 0.
Narellan White 4 Oakdale 26;
The Oaks 12 Picton 8;
Camden 12 City Blue 26.
[City Gold v Narellan Blue – Sunday, 11 August]
Bowral Blues 12 Warragamba Wombats 34;
Oran Park Chargers 8 Campbelltown City 42;
Thirlmere Roosters 14 Mt Annan Knights 22.
NEXT WEEK – ROUND 17 – FIRST GRADE
Oakdale v Narellan (Saturday 5.30pm);
Campbelltown City v Thirlmere (Sunday 2.30pm)
Mittagong v The Oaks (Sunday 2.30pm);
Picton v Camden (Sunday 3pm).