THE Gerringong Lions did their chances of a top-three finish no harm in the penultimate round of the Group 7 competition, downing Albion Park-Oak Flats 40-10 at Michael Cronin Oval on Saturday.
The Lions win sets up an all-important clash between the reigning premiers and Jamberoo next week, which will likely determine the minor premiership and the final make-up of the top-five.
The Lions will likely need to find some improvement for their clash with the Superoos, with the relatively lopsided scoreline masking what was far from their most polished performance of the season.
The match did start on a positive note for the Lions when Nathan Ford crossed in the opening stages.
The Gerringong hooker took advantage of some lazy defence near the try line and reached to score under the posts.
Corey Mulhall converted for a 6-nil lead.
That lead would soon be extended after the Lions were put on the attack thanks to long range kick-return by Joel Doosey.
The Gerringong winger bought the ball deep in to the Eagles’ territory and a subsequent shift to the left allowed centre Toby Gumley-Quine to race away and score in the corner.
The Park would then peg back the Lions’ lead.
Quick hands got the ball to centre Jarryd King and he burrowed over to make it 10-4.
There was then a sense of déjà vu around the ground when Gerringong again cut the Eagles open on the left.
Gumley-Quine again found some space and streaked away to score an almost carbon-copy of his first try.
Mulhall’s conversion from out wide gave Gerringong a 16-4 lead at the break.
Gerringong’s lead was trimmed early in the second stanza.
Heavy contact on Isaac Russell following a Park kick resulted in a loose ball and Blake Jones touched down.
Aaron Merrick’s conversion bought the visitors within a converted try at 16-10.
That would be as close as the Park would get however as Gerringong controlled the remainder of the fixture.
Ewen McCarroll looked as if he was the next Lion to cross but was ruled to be held up.
From the next play Mulhall joined the list of try scorers, leaping high to pluck a pin-point kick from Daniel Brown on the right edge.
The Lions would then put on three tries that gave the crowd something to cheer about. Doosey also when the aerial route, leaping up above a number of Park defenders and coming down with the ball.
Isaac Russell then had the Park defence in all sorts as he raced 90 metres after fielding a kick and linked up with his brother Rixon who crossed next to the posts.
Gumley-Quine then completed his hat-trick – the centre again using his speed to get on the outside of the Park defenders and sprinting down the touchline for his third of the day.
Replacement Judd Collyer then strolled over in the corner for his first try in the top grade and rounded put the score at 40-10.
For Gerringong, Gumley-Quine, Doosey and the Russell brothers all had strong games, while Merrick, Jones and King did all they could for the Eagles.