Group 20 rugby league
TLU ............... 32
Yenda ............... 24
TULLIBIGEAL-Lakes United took 75 minutes to shake off a dogged Yenda Blueheelers outfit to win 32-24 in frosty conditions at Wade Park yesterday.
Colin Fisher's second try with four minutes remaining was the first time the margin exceeded six points in an armwrestle of a contest.
Yenda forced TLU to defend four straight sets on their line in the opening 15 minutes but a try against the run of play from Michael Mogliotti put the pressure back on the home side.
Every time the Sharks crossed the line Yenda hit straight back, but a litany of sloppy mistakes, including an ill-fated offload by Tom Sellars in his own in-goal area, stopped the Blueheelers from ever gaining the ascendancy.
TLU half-back James Williams lit up the field with two electric runs through the centre and his side was then able to work the ball wide to find the line.
The score at the break was 16-10 in favour of the visitors, but such was the pattern of the match, Yenda returned fire in the first set of the second half courtesy of Saula Lalagavesi.
Yenda's highlights for the final 40 minutes included a bone-crunching tackle by Josh Curphey, which helped set up Tama Miratana to score, while a good run from Sellars served up Lalagavesi's second, but TLU proved too strong in defence and worked the ball too quickly out wide.
TLU captain-coach and reigning Group 20 player of the year Brent Pike praised his side's courage.
"We had to defend for the first 20 minutes but we didn't concede a try and our defence was unreal - of the 13 out there every player dug deep," Pike said.
"Colin Fisher played well out wide but up the middle Chris Jordan and Matt Pike did well, along with Daniel Judd, who holds it tight on the fringes.
"The way the game panned out we used the attacking ability of Jaden Kelly and Daniel Judd to get the ball wide on the overlap, and those boys made it look easy.
"Yenda's a quality side that recruited well in the off-season and they'll be a force by the end of this season, once they've got their patterns sorted out."
Yenda coach Roy Romeo said his side showed a lot of promise against the reigning premiers and the performance indicated they would hit their straps in the coming weeks.
"Our defence and attitude was a lot better and I'm happy with that performance," Romeo said.
"A few of our fifth tackle options were pretty ordinary, but our defence was pretty good so once we get our structures in order we'll be right.
"The one percenters went against us this week; one of their tries came off an intercept and Tom Sellars threw the ball in the in-goal to give away a try, but we will work on those little things."