The Griffith Three Ways United have come away with the runners-up tag for the second time in three years after falling to a spirited South Coast Black Cockatoos 40-12 in the Koori Knockout grand final in Tuggerah.
The Three Ways side advanced to the grand final after a strong performance in the semi-final against Waterloo Storm.
While the Griffith side gave Waterloo a few chances early on their defence was able to stand tall. It looked like the Three Ways would score the first try of the morning with Nicho Hynes putting a kick in behind the line for Coedi Towney, but the winger couldn't get the ball on the ground.
Hynes made no mistake at the second time of asking as after a couple of repeat sets he was able to break the line and give the Griffith side a 6-0 lead at the break.
The Three Ways made an immediate impact in the second half with Sam Coe making a break after an intercept, and while he wasn't able to get straight over, he followed the play, and after an offload from Hynes, Coe got over the line.
Hynes was again the provider for the final try which secure the side's spot in the final as an ambitious offload found its way to Robbie Simpson Junior who scored under the post to wrap up a 16-0 win.
The final didn't start the way the Three Ways side would have liked as the South Coast side scored three tries in the opening 10 minutes before making it 26-0 halfway through the first half.
Griffith Three Ways United president Damian Thorne knew it was going to be tough to come back from that position.
"In any type of footy you can't let a team get out to an early lead," he said.
"That is knockout footy and when the two undefeated sides face off one of them has to lose.
"We were confident and went back to prepare, and I thought we did everything right, but the South Coast side were just too good."
When the Griffith side did manage to get some possession, Andrew Fifita was able to get over the line after a strong break from Hynes to make it 26-6 at the break.
An injury to Robbie Simpson Junior meant he would miss the remainder of the game, but the Three Ways side were able to keep their hopes alive with Hynes once again providing the set up for Towney to get over in the corner.
That was as close as the Griffith side would get with South Coast Black Cockatoos scoring another two tries to wrap up the 28-point win.
Thorne praised the way a couple of the bigger players in the side were able to push through the pain barrier to try and help their side to the victory.
"Ben (Jeffery) went into the last couple of games with a hamstring injury so we couldn't utilise him to his full ability, but he still went out there and played with his heart on his sleeve," he said.
"Josh Charles was also a warrior for us and pushed through the barrier and wasn't able to walk after the first day of the knockout and his brother Kodie worked really hard for us as well."
The Three Ways president wanted to thank the community for all the support they received.
"When we go to the knockout we aren't just playing for the Aboriginal community, we play for the entire Griffith community," he said. "We love the support we get from the community. The last time we made the grand final I was getting congratulated when I walked down the street."
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