PRIDE OF THE PANTHERS: Sawtell down Rebels in grand final
RESERVE GRAND FINAL: The Sawtell Panthers reserves claimed the Elliot Family trophy today after a thrilling grand final bout with the South Grafton Rebels.
In a game that had six lead changes the Rebels started strong but Sawtell stormed home to claim a 34-14 win over their opponents at Geoff King Motors Oval.
The Rebels got off to a dream start after receiving the kick off and almost instantaneously finding their way down in the Panthers 20 after a huge run up the middle.
South Grafton broke the deadlock inside two minutes when the Rebels spread the ball along the line well and found Parla Pearce on the overlap out wide to get the four points.
Sawtell started to close on their northern rivals with some dangerous sets around the Rebels goal line and the pressure paid off Jeremy Griffith brought his side level after bursting through the wall of red and white.
The two sides continued to trade blows with some gritty football starting to unfold at Geoff King Motors Oval.
The Rebels regained the lead five minutes later with another well worked play ending up in the hands of winger Jade Duroux to slot home out wide.
But Sawtell wanted to finish the half strong and after a dropped ball from Rebels fullback Josh Bender, the Panthers capitalised to hit the front through Thomas Sanders.
South Grafton came out firing in the second half with some heavy pressure on their opponents.
Sawtell looked likely to withstand the pressure but they came undone once again with a move that had to be seen to be believed.
The Rebels earning their third through a magical link up when Pearce placed a kick in a tight area for James King to gather and dish back to Pearce to score.
With the game on a knifes edge the Rebels were awarded a penalty from close range and Duroux stepped up to kick his first for the afternoon.
But the Panthers wouldn't trail for long with interchange big man Josh Jago-Dowdy moving like a wrecking ball to split the South Grafton line and clinch the lead.
Cameron Kelleher had the crowd on their feet just over a minute later when he broke free against a tiring Rebels back line to put Sawtell in the box seat with ten to go.
South Grafton looked to hit back with some strong play in the Panthers half but Sawtell sealed the game when Jordan Starr ripped the Rebels apart to claim a breakaway try.
Best and fairest went to Rebels captain coach Josh Nagle after a brilliant second half to 2019.
The Grafton Ghosts finished minor premiers and had Vincent Williams finish reserve grade top point-scorer alongside Cameron Stewart for most tries.
Sawtell Panthers 34 (Tries: Griffith 1, Sanders 1, Jago-Dowdy 1, Kelleher 1, Starr 1, Taylor 1 Conversions: Angus-Crouch 4, Irvine 1) defeated South Grafton Rebels 14 (Tries: Pearce 2, Duroux 1 Conversions: Duroux 1)