TRIAL MATCH: Jayden Rosenberg makes a break for the Maitland Pickers. Picture by STUART SCOTT The Cessnock Goannas have claimed the 2015 Real NRL Charity Shield despite a 16-all draw at full-time in first grade against the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs at Baddeley Park on Saturday night.
Points were calculated throughout the day from several lower grade fixtures and contributed to the outcome.
The Goannas could not have asked for a better start in front of their vocal home crowd.
In the third minute, rampaging centre Sean Metcalf proved too powerful for the Bulldogs’ goal line defence.
The Goannas continued to dominate the first half, but could not break the Bulldogs defence after several back-to-back opportunities failed through poor handling on the Bulldogs goal line.
The Bulldogs struggled to gain momentum and field position until midway through the first half when a brilliant run-away try from exciting new fullback Wylie Manton got them back in the match.
With a successful conversion, the game was tied at 6-6 at halftime.
“I was happy with the first 40 despite going in level,” Goannas new coach Craig Miller said.
“The boys were a bit tired at the back end of the first half, but I couldn’t fault their performance.
The Cessnock Goannas started the second half in grand fashion when their highest point scorer from the 2014 season, fullback Kerrod Holland, sprinted away to cross underneath the posts.
The score was then in favour of the Goannas 12-6 after a successful conversion to their off-season recruit Willie Heta from Albury Thunder.
The Bulldogs could not find any answers to stop the prowling Goannas from gaining momentum.
And not before long the Goannas were across the white line again, with Holland in for his second try of the night.
Despite the Bulldogs being on the wrong end of the scoreboard, they were not out of the contest.
A few penalties going against the Goannas had the Bulldogs sniffing late in the second half.
Bulldogs recruit Brock Palmer proved too strong and crashed his way over in the corner for the scoreboard to read 16-10 to the Goannas in the dying 10 minutes.
With momentum building, the Bulldogs had one last try left in their tank.
Second Rower Mitch Cullen found himself across the line just five metres to the left of the post.
The conversion followed and all of a sudden the Charity Shield played out a 16-all draw.
“I am very happy with the way our boys went about things,” Miller said.
“It was our first hit out.
“I am very happy.”
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