Updated: Jan 16
Saturday saw the final game of the Inaugural Globe Insurance National Rugby League regular season when the in form Sharks of Duhaney Park hosted the Vauxhall Vultures at the Duhaney Park Mini Stadium. With the top three teams within a win of each other, any win for the Sharks would see them take the title ahead of the JDF. Victory by the Vultures would see all three teams finish on 9 points with the JDF taking the title with a healthy goal difference. Only an unlikely win by more than 20 points could see the Vultures as champions. This along with the final standings deciding the draw and home advantage for the Premiership phase of the Competition, both teams knew that they had everything to play for. This was evident from the kick off, as on their first possession the Sharks big forwards drove hard at the Vultures defence and despite determined and ferocious tackling from Vauxhall, Jermaine Wilks forced his way over, after only five minutes to score, and give the Sharks the start that they had hoped for. From the restart the Vultures showed that they could give, as well as take, hitting the Sharks hard and pinning them back in their own half. The fierce tackling and constant pressure paid off, and forced a turnover early in the tackle count. Having regained the ball the Vultures combined hard driving at the Sharks line, with determined running out wide to probe for a weakness. A smart move which saw the ball move quickly from hand to hand created a gap allowing Howard Clarke to step inside of the defence and put the Vultures back on equal terms. Kemar Gray stepped up to kick the conversion and give them a 6points to 4point lead. Determined to maintain the momentum, Vauxhall pressed hard and forced the Sharks into mistakes in their own half, and providing opportunities that were seized on in the nineteenth and twenty seventh minutes by Orlando Jones, who broke away to score twice with Kemar Gray kicking one of his two attempts at goal and extending their lead to 16 points to 4 points. Back came the Sharks and Roy Calvert of the Sharks kicked a penalty to keep them in touch at 16 points to 6 points. With both sides now in full flow, the game became a battle of wills, with both sides trying to physically dominate and outsmart the other. The remainder of the first half saw opportunities for both sides. But determined defence and impressive counter play saw the game ebb and flow until the thirty third minute when Jason Gooden finished off a series of determined drives by the Sharks forwards with a quick thinking move to crash over and reduce the deficit to 16 points to 10 points. Halftime came as a welcome break for both sides, which were short of replacements, and had not had chance to rotate and rest its forwards. The second half saw the war of attrition continue, and as both teams tired quickly, the inevitable mistakes were punished with each exchanging scores. As first Howard Clarke of Vauxhall crossed the line in the forty fifth minute, for his second and Vauxhalls fourth try with Kemar Gray adding the extra two points. Sharks immediately replied with a solo effort by Jerry Braham who broke three tackles and crossed the line. With both sets of forwards exhausted from the conflict, it was Vauxhall who reacted first by changing tactics and sending the ball wide to use their pace in the backs and run at the tired Vauxhall men. This proved to be the unlocking of the Sharks defence with Mohenjo Thompson crossing the line twice and Orlando Jones chipping in with his third of the day. With the score at 40 points to 14 points and only 10 minutes remaining it just seemed as if it was just a question of how many points the Vauxhall men could run in to claim the title. Despite this onslaught, Sharks found a second wind and showed that they were a team to be respected and feared as they came back at Vauxhall and played with a focus and determination that was rewarded with powerful tries from Robert Smith and Kareem Jahgroo which were converted by Roy Calvert and Damon Gayle to bring them back to 40 points to 26 points. However, time was against them and as they pressed forward a mistake allowed Vauxhalls Jeffery Gray to collect the ball in his own half and go the length of the field to score a try that was worthy of the commitment and skill shown by both sides in this hard fought encounter. The final result of Vauxhall Vultures 46pts Duhaney Park Sharks 26pts sees Vauxhall Vultures crowned as League Champions of the inaugural Globe Insurance National Rugby League and earn poll position for the Premiership knockout phase of the competition starting nest Saturday. Scorers for the Sharks, Tries (4 pts each) Jermaine Wilks, Jason Gooden, Jerry Braham, Robert Smith and Kareem Jahgroo. Goals: (2 Pts each) Roy Calvert, Damon Gayle Penalties: (2 Pts each) Roy Calvert Total: 26 points. Scorers for Vultures, Tries (4 pts each) Howard Clark (2), Orlando Jones (3), Mohenjo Thompson (2), Jeffery Gray Goals: (2 Pts each) Kemar Gray (5) Penalties: (2 Pts each) Orlando Jones, Kemar Gray Total: 46 points.
Authored by Paul Morris.