Lions-Gorillas in titanic battle

Kiama Knights classy young half Daniel Martin sets up an raid during his side's 44-8 thumping of Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs at Kiama Showground. Picture: DAVID HALL

Kiama Knights classy young half Daniel Martin sets up an raid during his side's 44-8 thumping of Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs at Kiama Showground. Picture: DAVID HALL

ROUND 18 of the Group 7 rugby league competition had a bit of everything, from a 50-point blowout to a hard fought draw between last year's grand final combatants.

At Michael Cronin Oval on Saturday, premiers Gerringong and Warilla, the side they defeated in the 2013 grand final, fought out a highly entertaining 16-all draw.

With the Lions missing a number of big names, it looked like it could be the Gorillas day when they jumped out to an early 10-0 lead.

Makeshift hooker Jesse Dee opened the scoring when he darted over from dummy-half, before speedster Chad Lisch raced three quarters of the field for a converted try of his own.

Gerringong finally kicked into gear and stand-in captain Patrick Cronin produced a deft grubber for Joel Roberts to touch down under the posts.

The sin-binning of Warilla's Tyson Brown gifted Gerringong a prime opportunity when Isaac Russell dived over from dummy half after selling a huge dummy for a 12-6 Gerringong lead.

Gerringong should have taken the lead into the break but a defensive lapse let Aaron Henry break away and send Jesse Dee in for his second and a 16-12 Warilla lead.

While there was no points scored for the first 33 minutes of the second half, it was still an exciting affair as the two proud sides went at it hammer and tong.

As time ticked by it looked like the Gorillas would emerge victorious until Henry was sin-binned with 13 minutes on the clock.

The Lions again took advantage of the extra man and with seven minutes remaining a Peter Cronin crashed over in the corner to level the scores. Roberts couldn't manage the difficult side-line conversion.

Patrick Cronin and Ben Cotter traded missed field goals before the Gorillas looked to have stolen the win in the dying stages as they spread the ball wide but the Gerringong defence held firm.

At Noel Mulligan Oval on Sunday, Shellharbour downed a spirited Port Kembla 32-22.

Port got off to a great start when Kaine Edwards strolled over early for a 6-0 lead, but the Sharks fought back to lead 22-6 at the break.

Shellharbour's Brad Chapman, Michael McKinley and Matt Hillcoat all crossed in quick succession before Justin Rodrigues went over before the interval. It was Port who opened the scoring in the second half Tane Sturmey finding space out wide to bring it 22-10.

The Sharks then increased the lead when Reed Harris barrelled over out wide, before Port replied with an intercept try through Josh Edwards to bring it to 26-16.

Port's chances of a comeback were put to bed when Jamie Manukonga scored a converted try, but the Blacks kept fighting and Kaine Edwards grabbed a double on fulltime to round out the score.

At Berry Showground, Jamberoo kept their finals chances alive with a 44-20 win over Berry, while Kiama did the same with a 44-8 home win over Milton-Ulladulla.

At Centenary Oval, Nowra-Bomaderry moved to third spot with a 66-16 demolition of Albion Park Oak Flats.

Next Saturday Nowra-Bomaderry take on Berry at Nowra, Warilla host Jamberoo, while on Sunday Gerringong will travel to Albion Park, Port Kembla to Kiama and Milton-Ulladulla to Shellharbour.

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