Cowra Magpies have claimed the hosting rights of this year’s Group 10 grand finals defeating Orange Hawks 26-24 in an epic premier league major semi-final on Sunday afternoon.
A penalty goal struck by Magpies goalkicker Caley Mok iced the victory after the fulltime siren at Sid Kallas Oval, giving Cowra a two-point advantage and their second home grand final in five years.
Mok converted the match-winning goal with ease and was swarmed by his teammates.
Cowra coach Steve Sutton heaped praise on the reliable winger.
“As soon as the penalty was blown and I saw where it was from, I was really confident he’d get it,” victorious Cowra coach Steve Sutton said.
“That’s what goal kickers want, the good ones want the pressure situation. Caley is the complete professional. He’s not the biggest bloke or the fastest bloke, but he rarely makes a mistake, he works hard on everything he does, particularly his goal kicking and that was on show.”
Cowra led 8-6 at the break thanks to an early penalty goal and a 20th minute try to William Ingram which was cancelled out by Hawks when Willie Heta dummied his way across just before the break.
🔥🔥🔥— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) August 26, 2018
For anyone playing along at home, here's the vision of the final penalty. Pretty blatant strip. Had to be blown.
Hawkies will play Panthers in next Sunday's prelim final at Wade Park.
Heta plays like he did today and we'll have a Cowra-Hawks rematch #Group10pic.twitter.com/f6qxdskQCL
Magpies and Hawks swapped tries from the restart through Jeremy Gordon and Eman Rodriguez respectively, before Hawks went ahead for the first time in the 65th minute through a Jake Blimka try, the young half kicking for himself before producing a stunning dive to score in the corner.
Cowra didn’t give up, though, and quickly ran in back-to-back four-pointers to stun the two blues, Josh Rainbow and Bradyn Cassidy both scoring to rocket the Magpies up 24-18 inside the final 10 minutes.
But Hawks, as they’d done all game, had an answer. Heta kicked a perfectly placed 40-20 and then put Raki Tuheke through to level it up.
Hawks received possession and worked it up field but couldn’t get in range to give Heta a crack at a field goal.
With the clock winding down, Cowra was awarded a penalty after a Hawks strip and Mok secured the home grand final with the two-point win.
“I just needed to know that one over. I’d come off the bench too I didn’t think I was going to get back on. I knew it was over straight off the boot, I’ve been doing a lot of practice so it pays off. I hope that happens in the grand final too,” Mok said.
Sutton was hugely pleased with the effort of his troops, but he was quick to turn the focus to two weeks time.
“I thought we were really good early but didn’t convert that into more points. We had the chances. We have to better in the big moments and ice them. Fortunately we were good enough today to come away with the win,” Sutton said.
“Willie had his boot on song today and came up with a couple of good kicks they were able to capitalise on and the 40-20 at the end, he’s just a class player. When they needed somebody to do something they just did it.”
Heta hopes his Hawks can dig deep this week and secure the second grand final spot when they take on Bathurst Panthers this weekend.
“I thought in that last set we were going to get in range to seal it but not to be. They probably played better minutes then we did so its disappointing to be on the losing end of the scoreboard,” Heta said.
“Well done to them, they book the first seat, hopefully we can get it done next week. We’re know we’re at the mark of where we need to be playing.
“They played smarter football, laid a platform for themselves and found errors. Their points came off the back of them completing sets and that’s what the game requires.”
- COWRA MAGPIES 26 (Will Ingram, Jeremy Gordon, Josh Rainbow, Bradyn Cassidy tries; Caley Mok 2, Joey Bugg conversions; Mok 2 penalty goals) def ORANGE HAWKS 24 (Willie Heta, Eman Rodriguez, Jake Blimka, Ruki Tuheke; Heta 4 conversions)