Wests Panthers hold off Waves
A COURAGEOUS Across The Waves League 11s team had their fairytale abruptly ended by some Corey Tanner brilliance yesterday, with Wests Panthers taking the title 34-26.
Waves came from fifth spot to earn their spot in the decider, and had plenty to play for with captain-coach Robbie McKeown flying to Greece today to get married.
The pre-match favourites took a while to assert their dominance, but scored three tries in 20 minutes to take an 18-0 half time advantage.
Momentum shifted immediately after the break though, with 37-year-old Chris Baldwin bustling through for a try, Dion Fatiaki scoring twice and Kenny Stewart diving over in the corner.
Stewart backed that up with a stirring effort to give Waves a 26-18 lead with 15 minutes to go.
He grabbed the ball after the Wests winger slapped it back into play, before swinging out of two tackles and thrusting his arm out to plant the ball on the line.
It could have been the nail in the coffin for Wests, but enter Corey Tanner.
The big man sidestepped and dummied his way to the tryline, before offloading to Ben Cole, who ran untouched across the white strip to steal back the lead.
Captain-coach Dennis Evans was full of praise for Tanner and rapt with the result.
“I was a little bit nervous there (when Waves took the lead), but I think our fitness shone through in the end,” he said.
“Corey injects so much experience and he’s a very good bloke to have around in the big moments.
“We’ve been training since last August really and it’s been 10 years since we’ve won a reserve grade final. The beers will taste good tonight.”
Meanwhile Brothers were too good in the under-18 decider, knocking off Hervey Bay 20-10.
It gave the Brethren two from three on the senior front and gave New Zealand league legend Sean Hoppe plenty celebrate.
The colourful Kiwi co-coached the under-18s with Dean Akers, before running water with the senior side later in the day.