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The Mountains advance to finals after epic Silktails draw

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The Mounties center and goalkicker Jack Miller was a hero when he scored a try in the third minute from full-time against Kaiviti Silktails to take his side to the final of the Ron Massey Cup.

He failed to convert his 4-pointer in the 77th minute, but was fine in the end.

A 26–1 draw – no extra time played in the Ron Massey Cup – moved the Mounties to 19 competitive points to retain fifth place on the ladder, while Silk Tales retained sixth place with seventeen.

Silk Tales needed a win to tie at 18 points as they were winning by a mixed vote. Only the top 5 clubs advance to the semi-finals.

The Fiji side led 20-10 at half time and scored 4 to 2 tries in the first 40 minutes.

At full-time, however, it was five tries each, both missing two goals.

“It was a very gritty, very difficult game,” said Mounties coach Paul Bent.

“We knew that if we stuck to what we could do, which was to control the football, we would be in the game. And that is what happened in the end.

“Silk Tales is a strong and talented team, so we needed to keep the ball in our hands to get the win.”

Silk Tales manager Wes Naikama mourned some missed chances in the first half and extended his lead further.

“I said at halftime that we need to improve our last-play options and kick into the corners to come out of our half more often,” Naikama said.

“But we didn’t respect the opponent, we didn’t respect the ball. That’s why we had to defend the line for most of the second half.

“Scrambled on our own try line, we vented ourselves.”

Silk Tales were welcomed onto the field by the honor guard of former Fiji Batty players celebrating ‘Old Boys’ Day with the mascot oval.

Stilktales saw second-row rower Paula Wallisoriso, the hero of last week’s three-try win against Ryde Eastwood, make a 40-metre dash across the southwest corner just six minutes later.

The Mounties pulled one back through hooker Freddy Pupu, with the Silk Tales scoring again.

The match devolved into full-blown arm wrestling, with Balei Tamabua scoring the second shot. All that support paid off when Nassau scored a try of their own at half-time.

The Mounties continued their hunt when rock Justin Philo scored in the 37th minute.

In all fairness, the halftime gap could have been extinguished as two Mounties players, Stuart Mason and Matthew French, were held back across the line.

Silk Tales scored early in the second half, with a double by Wari Sorriso in the 42nd minute.

But since then it’s been all Mounties.

Vallance Harris and Mitchell Butfield scored ahead of Miller’s virtual winner in the corner, with the Mounties camped in the Silktails half.

Naiqama lost football manager Jacqui Shannon to a brain aneurysm in June and said several players, including club captain Apakuki Tavodi, were proud of those who suffered season-ending injuries.

“After all the adversity and injuries the club has gone through, it’s very disappointing to fall short like this year,” said Naiqama.

“But I cannot praise the players enough. We have to celebrate the fact that we have reached this position, just one win away from the final. We have grown a lot this season as a club.

“So this will hurt, but we’ll get this core group together and come back better and smarter.”

Silktails participation in NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup is proudly supported by the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports.

NSWRL has received funding from the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports to support Silktails’ participation in NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup.