By Jake Bull
The Illawarra Steelers Junior Representative sides ended their season with mixed results against the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Forestville Oval on Saturday.
With both sides having plenty to play for, it was the Harold Matthews (U16) side that made the most of their opportunities in the final round of the regular season.
It was not a good start for the Steelers in the Harold Matthews when the Sea Eagles crossed first after two minutes for a 4-0 lead.
However, it did not take long for the visitors to recover when second rower Tomas Harris carried over defenders to score.
Zac Lomax added the extras for a 6-4 lead.
Back-to-back tries to Illawarra midway through the second half saw them skip out to a 16-4 lead before Manly bounced back in the 22nd minute to reduce the deficit to six.
Tomas Harris added his second try of the game with two minutes remaining before half-time and Lomax converted as Illawarra lead 22-10 at the break.
Not long after the break an acrobatic try to Manly had them back in the game at 22-16 before Tyson Simpson scored to push the gap out again at 28-16.
The two teams were trading tries and Manly again hit back in the 48th minute to bring the scoreline to 28-22.
In the 53rd minute, Simpson scored another try under the posts after a long break.
Zac Lomax was striking the ball well from the tee to extend the lead to 34-22.
Two late tries to the Steelers blew out the score as they finished their season with a 44-22 victory.
A win for the SG Ball (U18) team would give them every chance to play in this years’ final series but they got off to a poor start.
Midway through the first half they were behind 10-0.
However, in the 24th minute late-inclusion Patrick Herbert used his pace to score under the posts.
Jai Field got the two points to bring the game back to 10-6.
With three minutes to go before half-time Manly scored again to give the home side a 16-6 lead.
Two minutes into the second half the Sea Eagles extended their lead to 22-6 before Steven Marsters went over in the corner for Illawarra to make the game 22-10.
Tries to Reuben Garrick and Patrick Herbert had the game on a knife-edge at 22-20 but a late try for Manly meant that the Steelers season was over courtesy of a 26-20 loss.
Illawarra Steelers 44. Tries: Simpson (2), Moon (2), Harris (2), Jones, Burns. Goals: Lomax (5/7), Simpson (1/1).
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 22.
Illawarra Steelers 20. Tries: Herbert (2), Garrick, Marsters. Goals: Field (1/3) Herbert (1/1).
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 26.