HIGHFIELDS MOVING ON
Highfields eliminates Wattles in TRL extra time thriller
RUGBY LEAGUE: Highfields has survived a 100-minute war to advance to the next round of the TRL Premiership finals.
A blockbuster between two of the league’s premier teams lived up to expectations, with the Eagles surviving extra time to take down Wattles 32-25 at Platz Oval in their elimination final encounter.
Highfields looked to be in full control of the contest, holding an eight-point lead with as many minutes to play, before the Warriors refused to surrender.
Two late tries to Matt Christensen tied the scores, giving Matt Duggan the chance to put his side in front in the dying stages.
He wasn’t able to convert from out wide, sending the game to overtime.
Duggan’s boot put Wattles in front after nailing a field goal under heavy pressure, before Highfields immediately hit back from the kick off.
They forced an error, capitalising immediately with a clutch play from Jarrod Lee getting him over the line.
“You wonder why I’ve got no hair,” coach Gus McKellar told TRL Media.
“Up 24-16 with seven to go, we should’ve iced that game. Wattles never go away, especially with blokes like Matty, Jackson Green and Travis (Burns).
“The resilience we showed when we were down by a point just shows where the blokes are at. Our spine was really strong and Darcy (Maroske) was enormous.
“It’s one of those games where no one deserves to lose. We had to do it the hard way and I lost a few more hairs.”
Pat Templeman’s boot proved the difference, converting all five tries and a penalty goal in extra time to ice the game.
“We’re really close off the field and that transpires to the deep minutes at the end of a game,” Templeman said.
“You want to turn up for each other. You don’t want to be that bloke to let your mate down.”
The loss marked the end of the illustrious playing career of former NRL and Wattles played-coach Travis Burns.
“I look back on my career with fond memories.
“The last three years I’ve been involved with this bunch of blokes has been the most memorable and I’m really proud to call them all my friends now,” Burns said.
“I always wanted to give back to my local club. It was always a dream of mine to win a comp with my local club, but it’s not to be.”
Newtown advanced to the women’s preliminary final after edging out Valleys 16-10 in the elimination final.
The Lions held a slender lead at the break, just finding enough to hold off a gallant Roosters outfit and keep their season alive.