DRAWING POWER: Caileb Gerrard steps through a tackle of Connor Mulhearn on the way to scoring a match-levelling try against Hamilton. Pictures: Stewart Hazell
SOMEHOW Lake Macquarie found a way.
Down 37-16 to premiers and unbeaten leaders Hamilton with 18minutes remaining, the game –the Roos’season –appeared done and dusted.
The Hawks, seemingly, thought that too.
Roos’ revival draws praise TweetFacebook NHRU round 15Photos: Stewart Hazell, Michael HartshornThen Lake Macquarie lock Junior Osasa crashed over to cut the margin to 37-23 in the 72nd minute.
Two minutes later, Ken Villiamu crossed toclose within a converted try. Surely not.
With time up, fly-half Brendan Holliday went right only to find a dead end. He did a u-turn, glanced left and floated a “Hail Mary” pass. Centre Caileb Gerrard had to hurryto make the catch and all-off-a-sudden was in a hole. He burstthrough an attempted tackle by debut Connor Mulhearn and raced 20 metres to touch down.Holliday added the simple conversion to complete the great escape.
“I didn’t think we were a chance after being down by 20-odd,” Holliday admitted. “We did really well to fight back. I sawCaileb on the left and tossed it. It didn’t come out of the hand very well and floated too much. In the chaos, he was able to cut through. We were lucky really, but you can’t question the boys heart.”
The Roos, despite the grandstand finish, slipped out of the top five on percentages after Merewether thrashed University 52-34 at Townson Oval.Theymeetin a showdown for fifth place at Walters Park next Saturday.
After the Greens, the Roos have away games to Maitland and Nelson Bay.
Merewether tackleSouthern Beaches (home) and Hamilton (away).
The Waratahs, who trounced Singleton 52-22, are three points behind Merewether and Lake Macquarie and are the only other side with a realistic chance of moving into the five.They face Wanderers (a), Nelson Bay (h) and University (a).
If the Roos are to play in the finals for the first time since 2012, Holliday conceded thatthey must cut out the errors.
“When we string phases together we can match anyone,” Holliday said. “It is just the silly off-loads and the penalty count. We got killed in the penalties. That is obviously partly our fault.Once you get the roll against you in the penalties, they seem to keep coming.”
At half-time, Hamilton were in front 18-16 on the scoreboard and7-5 in the penalty. Twenty minutes into the second half the penalty count had ballooned to 17-6. Most of the penalties awarded by referee Brendon Farrar wereat the breakdown.
“It looked like it was a set of laws for them and one for us,”Lake Macquarie coach Tim Chidgey fumed.
Hamilton coach Scott Coleman was equally frustrated.
“Where is the consistency,” Coleman said. “A couple of weeks ago we had four penalties against us in a row and received two yellow cards. Today the penalty count at one stage was 17-6 and 10-1 in the second half and there was one yellow card.I will ask for clarification during the week.”
Coleman also had praise for Lake Macquarie.
“Full credit to them, they showed a lot of heart,” he said. “In the first half, wehad nine turnovers and seven were from knock-ons. They were mistakes but theopposition force that on you too. Hopefully we learned a lesson that we can’t switch off.”