Dungog Warriors defeat Stroud 22-16

Dungog has defeated Stroud 22-16 in the grand final of the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League Northern Conference Grand Final.

The game at Lakeside Oval Raymond Terrace on Saturday September 14 was thrilling for the large crowd.

Michelle Mexon was at the game to take these photographs.

Match report from THE WARRIOR:

The Dungog Warriors met with mixed results in their respective Grand Finals at Lakeside last Saturday.

The Ladies League Tag team in their first ever season were gallant in defeat going down 12-4 to Stroud but the All Age team were magnificent in taking out the Northern Conference premiership with a 22-16 victory over the Stroud Raiders.

The game itself was a high quality affair with the result in the balance right up to the final whistle and both teams are to be congratulated on the way they played the game and full marks to the supporters of both sides who certainly added to the spectacle

Both teams took the field fairly evenly matched with the Warriors starting slight favourites and their was plenty of aggression in the early exchanges with both teams losing one of its starting second rowers for the game inside the first five minutes.

Dungog had the first scoring chance only for fullback Steven Muddle to lose the ball attempting to score.

There was no mistake shortly after when Dungog captain Matt Hinton offloaded for Jess Clifton to shake of a Raiders defender and crash over under the black dot. Halfback Steven Curnow made no mistake with the conversion to have the Warriors up 6-0.

The Raiders were not to be outdone and levelled the game up when their hooker went over from close range soon after.

The match was evenly poised after the first 20 minutes, although hooker Harry Boorer was troubling the Raiders defence with some good runs from dummy half.

A mistake from the Warriors on halfway gave the Raiders the ball from a scrum win and three tackles later the Stroud fullback split the Dungog defence up the middle before offloading for a Raiders converted try and a 12-6 lead.

Dungog stuck to their game plan and continued to test the Raiders and from a scrum win on the back of a repeat set the ball sped along the backline for Will Rooke to go over in the corner for an unconverted try just before halftime.

The second half started with the game evenly poised, there for the taking for which ever side wanted it the most.

A couple of errors from Dungog gave the Raiders a chance which they took with open arms crossing in the corner for an unconverted try to give them 16-10 lead.

The next 20 minutes was engrossing as the Warriors searched for a try to get back into the game and the Raiders looked to increase their lead.

Full back Steven Muddle was showing tremendous courage at the back and replacement forward Luke Rits and lock Nathan Price were starting to make inroads into the Raiders defence.

With time against Dungog, Warriors captain and Northern Conference player of the year Matt Hinton brought the Warriors supporters to their feet when he went over from close range.

Steven Curnow calmly kicked the conversion to lock the game up. Dungog were starting to gain the upper hand and when Hinton combined with five-eighthJake Clifton to send Nathan Price in for a converted try the Warriors found themselves in front 22-16 approaching the final 10 minutes.

Dungog looked to increase its lead but a Jake Clifton field goal attempt was wide of the mark.

Stroud refused to give in and threw everything at Dungog in the closing stages with the supporters from both sides on the edge of their seats.

The Raiders had one last throw of the dice with a penalty as the full time siren sounded and sent a towering bomb towards the Dungog line.

With players from both teams converging on the ball it was left to Warriors winger Will Rooke to leap high above the pack to catch the ball and seal a memorable win for the Dungog Warriors in what was a classic grand final.

It was a very happy bunch of players and supporters on the field for the presentation with Matt Hinton receiving the award for player of the match as well as Northern Conference Player of the year.

Congratulations to coach Nick Barnes and the the players on what has been a truly remarkable achievement.

Dungog 22. Jess Clifton, W Rooke, M Hinton, N Price tries, S Curnow 3 goals

Stroud 16 3 tries , 2 goals RSL best back Steven Muddle, RSL best forward Nathan Price. Players Player Matt Hinton. Rays Reserve Wyll Darr

Thanks to all our sponsors and supporters throughout the year and finally the players from both the Ladies League Tag and the All Age men's for what you all have done for the Dungog Rugby League Club and the town of Dungog this season.

Presentation night is on Saturday, September 28, at the Dungog RSL. The night kicks off at 6pm and tickets are $25 each or $40 a double. Call 0403 297 099 for tickets.