SCRAPPY is the word you would use to describe Sunday’s reserve grade rugby league clash between the Candelo-Bemboka Panthers and Bega Roosters.
Heavy tackles and push and shove were an ever-present factor in the game, which nearly degraded to a brawl a few times.
However, once the tempers settled there was some good, fast football on display.
The Panthers took the win 16-10 in spite of a strong comeback from the Roosters late in the second half.
Play broke down early on, with both teams giving up foolish penalties and mis-aimed kicks.
Both teams were unable to make solid metres, instead hitting up the ruck hard as front-rowers went head-to-head.
Stepping in to the fullback role for Bega, John Parbery was a standout with decisive runs and some clever offloads.
Meanwhile, Ben O’Reilly from the Panthers was creating havoc with quick stepping weaving through the Bega defenders.
However, both teams fell short of the line repeatedly.
Bega, especially, suffered with a number of knock-ons just short of the Panthers’ line.
It was the Panthers to open the account through a Jay Elliott try, but Taylor’s kick missed the mark for a 4-0 lead.
Minutes later Tasman Neil found the line again.
Wade Irvin was wrapped up in a tackle four metres from the Roosters’ line, but a sneaky low offload saw the defence miss the pass.
Neil scooped it up, stepped left around the tackle on Irvin and shocked defenders when he planted the ball by the posts.
Jason Heffernan nailed the conversion from in front and the Panthers looked in control at 10-0.
Play then broke down with both sides swapping tactics for aggression through the mid.
The air was thick with anticipation as a fight seemed inevitable, but the siren sounded half-time.
Poor kicking again hindered both teams when play resumed.
A Jamie Glenn restart was caught by Cody Hazelgrove-Danvers in touch giving the Roosters a run from their own 40.
Unfortunately for the Roosters, they were again unable to capitalise.
On the next set the Panthers gained momentum as they spread the ball wide to the right.
Brock Ringland stepped through the defensive line and a surging burst of speed saw him out of Bega’s reach to slam the ball down on the right wing.
The crowd leapt to its feet as Taylor nailed the conversion from an extremely difficult angle against the wind.
However with 20 minutes left to play it was the Roosters launching a last ditch effort.
A clever play from 20 metres out had the Roosters spreading the ball and Chris Halligan dipped between two defenders to score Bega’s first try.
Matt Blacka kicked the conversion and it was 16-6.
It was Hazelgrove-Danvers putting on a powerful run to score the Roosters’ second.
Again the Roosters spread play to the right, and with the Panthers winger sticking to his outside man, Hazelgrove-Danvers stormed through the gap to score outwide.
The conversion missed, putting the score at 16-10.
Tempers again flared as play intensified.
The Panthers looked to deny the Roosters any chance with a late try, but efforts resulted in knock-ons and one ball ruled held up.
The Candelo-Bemboka defence stood firm though and the final siren sounded with the home squad ahead 16-10.