The Illawarra Steelers SG Ball side have finished the regular season with a 30-16 loss to the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.
The Steelers were coming off the back of a short turn around following their 60-0 thumping of North Sydney in Asquith mid-week.
It took just nine minutes for the home side to trouble the scorers with speedy centre Ethan Abou-Ghaida proving too quick for the Canberra defence.
Seven minutes later, the Steelers made the most of their good field position when halfback Blair Grant found space out wide and strolled over.
In the shadows of half-time, Canberra finally got their chance, and hooker Jermayne Cook couldn’t be denied close to the line. The Steelers headed into the break up 10-6.
The green machine started the second half as they finished the first with winger Gideon Afemui scoring in the corner to hand his side the lead.
Canberra continued their second half dominance with further tries to halfback Joe Roberts, centre Tremayne Chatfield and back-rower Lorenzo Leapai as they ran out to a 30-10 lead.
Grant's second try at the death still wasn't enough to prevent a14-point win to the Raiders.
SG Ball coach Shane Millard shared his thoughts on the game in the aftermath.
"We've had a big week and while we started well, Canberra put up some resistance and defended their line well," Millard said.
"I thought Matty Nicholson was good considering he played a full game in the front row, our halves tried really hard while Zaan Weatherall is probably the most improved player in the comp."
The Steelers finished seventh on the SG Ball ladder and will play the sixth-placed Western Suburbs Magpies in an elimination final next Saturday at Hammondville Oval, Moorebank.
The St George Dragons SG Ball team ended their season with a whimper after being beaten 34-14 by the Bulldogs.
Tries to Lachlan Talau and Evander Swann in the first 15 minutes helped the Bulldogs to a handy lead, before a quick-fire double from Shondre Lee-Silva helped the Dragons back into it.
A try from Amosa Manu two minutes from half-time helped the Bulldogs enter the break with a handy eight-point lead.
While Shaun Sauni-Esau's effort just minutes into the second half put the Dragons within two points, it was all the Bulldogs from there.
Tries to Kolinio Saukuru, Tuipulotu Katoa and Jacob Winterstein pushed the Bulldogs until the end as they secured a 20-point victory.
The Dragons saw out their season by finishing 13th on the SG Ball competition ladder.
Canberra Raiders 30 (Jermayne Cook, Gideon Afemui, Joe Roberts, Tremayne Chatfield, Lorenzo Leapai tries, Jahlon Governor 5 goals) defeated Illawarra Steelers 16 (Blair Grant 2, Ethan Abou-Ghaida tries, Zaan Weatherall, Blair Grant goals) at WIN Stadium, Wollongong. Half-time: Steelers 10-6.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 34 (Lachlan Talau, Evander Swann, Amosa Manu, Kolinio Saukuru, Tuipulotu Katoa, Jacob Winterstein tries; Brandon Wakeham 5 goals) defeated St George Dragons (Shondre Lee-Silva 2, Shaun Sauni-Esau tries; Rhys Sherlock 1 goal) at Belmore Sportsground. Half-time: Bulldogs 16-8.
The Steelers' Harold Matthews side put on a clinical display on Saturday afternoon as they thumped the Raiders 52-10 at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.
It took just two minutes for the Steelers to strike when winger Kane Ball raced away to score in the corner.
Four minutes later, halfback Jayden Sullivan made the most of a break and strolled his way over.
Ball was at it again soon after, when he broke through and scored under the posts. A further three tries led into half-time as back-rowers Hamish Holland and Duke Grant as well as centre Max Feagai joined in on the scoring.
While the Steelers held a commanding 28-0 lead at the break, Canberra were first to score in the second half with interchange player Ryan Longhurst crashing over.
It didn't halt the Steelers dominance though as a Sullivan dummy fooled the Raiders defenders as he scored his second of the afternoon.
Three more tries were scored through fullback Jack Walsh, Grant and Holland while Raiders winger Cooper O’Connor scored a consolation try right on full-time.
Man of the Match Grant is now expecting a tough qualifying final against the minor-premiership winning Newcastle Knights next week at Hammondville Oval.
"It’s going to be a tough game against them," he said. "We are looking for a nice strong game, hopefully the boys show up again, and get a win up."
Coach Ben Linde was proud of the Steelers' performance.
"I thought [the performance] was outstanding considering it was our third game in seven days," Linde said.
"At the end of the day, there are guys out there that have played over 100 minutes of footy this week so all we wanted was a good show of character which we proudly showed.
"There is still a lot of stuff we need to fix but I’m very confident that we will. They’re buying into what we’re about and very excited to have a crack at the number one side."
The Bulldogs also ended the Dragons' Harold Matthews season with a dominant 22-6 victory at Belmore Sportsground.
The game wasn't even 60 seconds old when Jazzaiah Schaafhausen crossed in for the Bulldogs. Keanan Abbey's try quickly followed in the fifth minute.
A further try to Jon Moli put the Bulldogs ahead 16-0, before Hayden Budd crossed for the Dragons on the stroke of half-time.
Issam Merhi's try in the 55th minute proved the only scoring play in the second half as the Bulldogs' ran away 16-point victors.
The Dragons ended the Harold Matthews campaign with a 15th place finish.
Illawarra Steelers 52 (Kane Ball 2, Jayden Sullivan 2, Duke Grant 2, Hamish Holland 2, Max Feagai, Jack Walsh tries, Jayden Sullivan 4, Connor Muhleisen 2 goals) defeated Canberra Raiders 10 (Ryan Longhurst, Cooper O’Connor tries, Nicolas Hall 1 goal) at WIN Stadium, Wollongong. Half-time: Steelers 28-0.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 22 (Jazzaiah Schaafhausen, Keanan Abbey, Jon Moli, Issam Merhi tries; Gian-Mario Serratore 3 goals) defeated St George Dragons 6 (Hayden Budd try; Joshua Cannard 1 goal) at Belmore Sportsground. Half-time: Bulldogs 16-6.
The Steelers' Tarsha Gale Cup side ran out 14-10 victors against the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.
It took until the second quarter for the maiden scoring play of the match when Raiders halfback Taylah Frost scored out wide to give her side the 4-0 lead, which remained until half-time.
A chip-and-chase effort from skipper Keeley Davis helped the Steelers level up the scoreline in the third quarter.
This was short-lived however when Raiders interchange player Hollie Deaton scored wide to give her team a 10-4 advantage.
Davis was having none of it however and scored her second try in the final quarter to again level the scoreline.
Davis would have a hand in the match-winning too when a kick ahead was grounded just before full-time by Nyeasha Hoskins-Moore to help the Steelers' to a four-point win.
Coach Daniel Lacey was proud of his team's fight ahead of next week's finals.
"It’s good to learn how to claw back a game, to fight from behind and it was good character shown by the team to not give up," Lacey said.
"Semi-finals are not just a normal game. The intensity is lifted, the training lifts and we’ll be looking to get the win and earn the week off."
The Steelers finished third and face the Cronulla Sharks in the qualifying final this weekend at Leichhardt Oval.
Illawarra Steelers 14 (Keeley Davis 2, Nyeasha Hoskins-Moore tries, Keeley Davis 1 goal) defeated Canberra Raiders 10 (Taylah Frost, Hollie Deaton tries, Monique Bullock 1 goal) at WIN Stadium, Wollongong. Half-time: Raiders 4-0.