Upset: Nic Dobson and Luke Byrnes scramble to hold the Wests Lions attack as Sean Nean finds support in the upset victory at Scully Park.A complete round of upsets ended the Group 4 home and away season with the the West Lions big win over premiers North Tamworth, and Narrabri’s win over Gunnedah setting the tone for next week’s semi-finals re-match.
Just like last year, Norths and Wests will play in the major semi-final, while Narrabri won the rights to host Gunnedah again next week in the minor semi-final, while the Armidale Rams upset the Diggers to record their only win of a long first season in the Group.
At Scully Park the first 20 minutes of the match went as expected, the undefeated premiers and minor premiers running over the Lions to jump to an early 18-nil lead.
In the 23rdminute the game was turned upside down when Matt Nean took to the field for the first time this season after serving a suspension dating back to last year’s grand final against the Bears.
The home side hit back with three tries of their own to head into the sheds tied up at 18-all, the first time this season the Bears haven’t lead into the break.
After the break Norths hit first but again the Lions answered with another three unanswered tries to jump out to a 38-22 lead.
The Bears got back to 38-32, but when Nean dummied and danced his way over from a penalty tap with four minutes remaining it was over, and the Lions will be taking plenty of confidence out of the win into next week.
Coach Shane Rampling said that all they wanted to do in the final round was put some pressure on the Bears.
“They haven’t really been pushed this year,” Rampling said.
“We wanted to see how they would react to a bit of pressure.”
“We don’t want to get carried away but will take massive confidence from that win.”
Meanwhile in Narrabri, the Blues dominated the Bulldogs early to be up 30-4 at halftime, with the forwards getting the upper hand early.
The Bulldogs fought back late but couldn’t catch the Blues, who won 34-18 and will also take plenty into next weeks home semifinal from the win.
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