Casuarina marched into their sixth consecutive Darwin Rugby Union Grand Final with a thrilling 30-29 victory over South Darwin at Rugby Park last night
The Cougars opened the scoring after just 10 minutes when flanker Christopher Nurse scored in the corner.
Zac Phillips’ sideline conversion gave the reigning Premier a 7-0 nil lead.
South’s equalised four minutes later when robust centre Henry Berns scored under the post.
After earlier missing a penalty, Keegan Neal’s conversion levelled the score.
The Cougars replied straight away with a try to Eric Ericson.
With both sides adopting an expansive game plan the fleet footed Thomas Hiramatsu crossed over under the posts.
The Rabbitohs were in again when they regathered a penalty goal attempt that ricocheted off the upright into the field of play and Tim Atkinson crossed after two phases.
The Neal conversion had the Bunnies leading 21-12.
Nate Lamb kicked a penalty after the siren and Souths had a lead of 21-15 in a half that yielded five tries.
After another Neal penalty goal, Souths turned over the ball from the restart which gave Casuarina field position which they converted to points with a try to Nurse.
Casuarina’s next foray into South’s territory resulted in a try to Sam Batty and a one point lead.
Whittmer Tuputala scored in the corner which reinstated South’s lead with fifteen minutes left to play.
The lead however was short lived lead when Batty struck again from a quick penalty tap close to the line.
With Lamb having failed to convert three attempts at conversion South Darwin had a chance to steal victory when Neal had penalty kick from 40 metres out.
The shot was wide and the grounding of the ball in goal ended an absorbing free flowing match.
Casuarina have the week off which will allow Joe Albert, Tyson Doughty and Zac Phillips time to recover from injuries prior to the Grand Final.
South Darwin will take on University in the Preliminary Final after the Pirates defeated Palmerston 22-15 in the Elimination Semi Final.
Both sides started the match tentatively knowing one of the team’s season was set to come to an end 80 minutes later.
Pirate’s fullback Anthony Heal opened the scoring fourteen minutes into the match when he stepped around a couple of Palmerston defenders to score.
Within minutes the Crocs had worked the ball down the field with some enterprising play culminating in a try by George Love.
Jett Yates’ conversion levelled the score at 7-all and University knew the Crocs were not about to roll over.
Wise Sekitoga evaded the defence to score the Pirates second try which was duly converted by Robert Butcher.
Yates reduced the margin to 4 points with a penalty goal before a try by winger Shaun Ley late in the half sent the Pirates to the break leading 19-10.
The second half was dour with neither side getting the measure of the other.
Butcher missed two penalty goal attempt and after absorbing enormous pressure the Garry Keppel broke through for a Palmerston try seven minutes from time.
Yates missed the conversion and the four point margin meant only a try would extend the Crocs season by a another week.
A Butcher penalty goal with 30 seconds remaining gave the Pirates a seven point lead.
Palmerston received a penalty from the restart and although they worked the ball to within 15 metres of the line a shock victory was denied.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NT Rugby.