GROUP Three Pride under 15s are the Country Rugby League champions following a gripping 26-24 extra time win over NRL Victoria in the final played at Wyong.
Victoria scored a try with just minutes left in overtime to get within two points of Group Three. However, the conversion attempt sailed wide and Group Three held on to take out the match.
This is the second year the side has finished Country champions. Last season Group Three thrashed NRL Victoria 26-0 in the under 14 final.
Group Three coach Doug Ferguson said this season's game was always going to be close.
"The Victorians were massive,'' he said.
"They had some big boys there. Our forwards did a great job matching them.''
However, Victoria started confidently and at one stage held a 16-6 advantage.
"My boys were a little slow to get going,'' Ferguson said.
"But once we got into the game we settled down.''
Fullback Ethan Ferguson from Taree was named player of the match.
Ferguson troubled the defence all game and set up a number of tries. He also kicked three goals.
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Centre Josh Goldberg from Port City and five-eighth/lock Mhaliki Mercy from Taree both finished with two tries and were also strong for the Pride.
The scores were locked at 20-20 at the end of regular time after Leviticus Amiatu forced his way over for the Victorians to level the scores.
Group Three scored the first try in overtime before the Victorian responded.
"If they'd kicked the conversion we would have gone into golden point,'' coach Ferguson explained.
"But I think we would have beaten them in golden point. They were starting to tire.''
Group Three 26(J Goldberg 2, M Mercy 2, TJ Brabant tries; E Ferguson 3 goals) d NRL Victoria 24 (W Afualo 2, L Amiatu, S Prescott, J Seumanu tries; B Walker 2 goals).
The Group Three side was Ethan Ferguson (Taree Panthers); Caleb Cooper (Port City), Josh Goldburg (Port City), Lester Andrews (Camden Haven), Hunter Longhurst (Wingham); Mhaliki Mercy (Taree Panthers), Charlie Dignam (Taree Panthers); Oscar Holt (Taree Panthers), Taye Cochrane (Taree Panthers), Ryan Maloney (Port City), Ty Jesse Brabant (Port City), Austin Bradley (Port City). Interchange Gianluca Burnes (Camden Haven), Lewis Coller (Forster-Tuncurry), Ashton Hilder (Forster-Tuncurry), Levi Doran (Taree Panthers), Brady Blackhall (Camden Haven), Fraser Holland (Forster-Tuncurry), Tyrese Dungay (Camden Haven), Brody Leask (Camden Haven).
Group Three under 14s were beaten 20-12 by Illawarra in the Plate final. The scores were locked at 12-12 at halftime.
Group Three's side was Luke Gilmour (Port Macquarie); Josh Lee (Port Macquarie), Lachlan Pensini (Port Macquarie), Will Hogan (Taree Panthers), Kai Young (Taree Red Rovers), Lennox Jensen (Port Sharks), Nav Willett (Taree Panthers); Harry Brennan (Forster-Tuncurry), Xavier Wells (Taree Red Rovers), Tavis Felsch (Forster-Tuncurry), Hudson Harmer (Lake Cathie), Connor Latham (Taree Red Rovers), Blake Steep (Port Macquarie). Interchange Bill Butlin (Port City) ,Blai Hamilton (Taree Red Rovers), Jack Formica (Wauchope), Shaun Weldon (Taree Red Rovers) ,Ty Vassali (Taree Red Rovers) ,Travis Johnston (Taree Panthers), Dean Jones (Port Macquarie).
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