by Matt Kersten – GreyStar ( 10/07/2013)
Only a week after losing to an ominous Grey Valley performance at the same ground, Blaketown welcomed back several vital players, such as Brad Houston and Robert Thomson, as they ran in four tries to book their home final berth.
In the first 20 minutes, however, the match looked as though it would follow last week’s script, with Grey Valley shooting out to a 10-0 lead and Blaketown looking stunned after Kevin Moore’s first try.
The standout valley fullback carved through the line in the fifth minute, beating Thomson to cross under the posts and set up Tim Priest’s easy conversion.
Just as the ball flew through the sticks, the dark clouds above McLean Park decided to open and hail and heavy rain pelted the players as the game turned into a sloppy mess of handling errors and breakdown penalties.
Blaketown winger Beau Cain and Priest both missed shots at goal before the valley flyhalf knocked one over in the 28th minute.
Despite the slippery ball, seagulls halfback Nik Davy created a try just before half-time with a long cut-out pass to Adam Richardson on the wing, having just broken through three tackles, to set up Blaketown’s resurgence in the second period.
With Houston in the sinbin following a mindless off-the-ball shoulder charge, and trailing 10-5, the Greymouth hosts came out from the sheds as a different team.
No longer playing passively, they hit the ball with pace and made their way into valley territory.
Flanker Brogan Watt was in possession as Blaketown mauled over the line, touching down to be rewarded for his excellent form.
A couple minutes later, Blaketown were back on the offensive and scored again, although this time by throwing the ball into space. Cain broke through the line off a set move and stepped Moore to put his side in front, Phil Thomson converting from the sideline to make it 17-10.
Grey Valley finally mustered a response through halfback/flanker Sam King, who was in the middle of a maul as his pack pushed through the defence.
Thomson and Priest then traded penalties to put the score at 20-18 in Blaketown’s favour.
The next try determined who would come out victorious, and it was the men in black who took advantage of their attacking position.
Thomson set up the try beautifully, charging through his marker and drawing in Moore before offloading to centre James Ward, who crossed out wide.
Thomson also added the conversion, putting Blaketown two scoring plays in front at 27-18 with 10 minutes remaining.
They did not hold the ball for that time, though, as Grey Valley furiously hammered at their defence as they tried to move into a winnable position.
However, the seagulls’ defence held strong until the last minute, when Blair Mirfin made it through for a try just before the final whistle sounded.
Blaketown 27 (J Ward, A Richardson, B Watt, B Cain tries; P Thomson pen, 2 cons)
Grey Valley 23 (K Moore, S King, B Mirfin tries; T Priest 2 pens, con).