ACTION PACKED: There was plenty of spectacular action in yesterday’s qualifying semi-final between Gerringong and Warilla which the Lions won 34-18. Gerringong’s Matt Jarrett gets away a pass sparking another Lions’ attacking raid. Photo: RICHARD WHITBYGERRINGONG will meet Albion Park-Oak Flats in a battle of the VB South Coast Group 7 Rugby League first grade heavyweights, following its 34-18 win over Warilla-Lake South at Michael Cronin Oval yesterday.
The Lions scored five tries to three in a frustrating afternoon for the visitors, who perhaps suffered from a few vital 50-50 calls going against them.
Spearheaded by Gavin and Matt Jarrett, the home side led 18-12 at the break, before Gorillas pivot Chris Henry was sent off and prop Andrew Diomei sin binned late in the contest.
Warilla opened their account in the 10th minute, Ngatai Hetet backing up a Dean Tungai line break for a converted try.
The home side hit right back when the Warilla defence failed to wrap up the ball close to the line and Peter Cronin barged over to level the scores.
With both teams rising to the occasion and playing semi-final standard football an arm-wrestle ensured until Lions’ fullback Sam Burke finished off deft lead-up work from Pat Cronin for 12-6 lead.
The home side went back-to-back through a Joel Roberts try, who also potted a penalty goal to push the lead out to 18-6.
However, Gerringong were made to pay for a turnover from the next set, centre Tyson Brown at his elusive best to cut the half-time deficit to six points.
After the resumption the match again reverted to a tough battle but Gerringong surged further ahead when Nathan Ford dived over from dummy half for 24-12.
Both sides conceded their share of penalties but despite Warilla peppering the opposition goal-line the Gerringong defence held firm.
As the visitors became visibly frustrated with some unforced errors and penalties against them, Diomei was given 10 minutes in the sin bin and Lions try-scoring machine Rixon Russell reaped the rewards a few tackles later, crossing for his 23rd four-pointer of the season.
In the aftermath of the try being scored, Henry was sent off for an alleged kick and an eight-point try was awarded.
Roberts kicked both goals for 32-12 and sealed the win.
Hetet bagged a double thanks to a clever pass from skipper Linken Hutchinson and Roberts rounded out the scoring with another penalty goal.
Gerringong will meet minor premiers Albion Park-Oak Flats at Centenary Field on Sunday in what is sure to be a thrilling encounter.
Warilla will now meet Jamberoo in an elimination semi-final against Jamberoo at Cec Glenholmes Oval on Saturday.
Warilla coach Peter Hooper said it had been a frustrating afternoon and “crucial errors at crucial times” cost them dearly.
“I thought we dominated the first 15-20 minutes but then our discipline went out the window,” he said.
“They’re a good side… I thought we defended okay.
“Our ball handling needs to improve for next week.”
Gavin and Matt Jarrett and Nathan Ford were the standouts for Gerringong, while Linken Hutchinson, James Clark and Hetet were the best for Warilla.
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