Greater Northern Tigers under-18s capture 32-28 victory in Laurie Daley Cup

A SLASHING Trent Taylor try six minutes from full-time stunned the Bellevue Oval crowd and catapulted the Greater Northern Tigers under-18s to a 32-28 win in the CRL Country Championships in Armidale on Saturday.

The Tigers - featuring Mackenzie Shepherdson (Denman), Steven Dengate (Muswellbrook), Hugh Collins (Aberdeen) and Bailey Miller-Freebairn (Aberdeen) - trailed the Northern Rivers Titans 28-26 late in the game before Taylor's sensational run from an inside pass by Dengate ignited the crowd.

The spindly fullback still had some work to do when he sliced through the Titans defensive line.

But, his speed and step beat Titans fullback Oliver Lindley.

Taylor dived over after the 50m burst to be swamped by ecstatic teammates who then celebrated their first win of the Laurie Daley Cup series.

It wasn't the only spark of brilliance.

Miller-Fairbairn had also steered the Tigers to a lead midway through the second half.

His 40-20 kick earned Greater Northern the ball on the Titans' 10m line and then he snuck over from a neat blindside play a few tackles later to reclaim an advantage they held for a short period in a see-sawing match.

The Tigers had led 4-0 after a Cooper Harris try but then the bigger Titans took over and led 12-15.

Greater Northern then scored three tries, through centre Jhett Butler, halfback Dengate and centre Blair Maloney.

They led 20-12 at half-time but then trailed 22-20 after Jahvis Kendall and Kuyan Robert-Laurie gave the Titans the upper hand.

Coach Peter Stevens was delighted and excited by the never-say-die attitude of his side, outgunned considerably in size and weight.

"That's been the case every week," he said of the small and mobile Tigers.

"The other sides have been massive compared to us.

"Their smallest is as big as our biggest.

"A lot of people don't realise the size difference we give away every week.

"I've never faulted their effort.

"Their effort right through has been outstanding.

"The good thing is we have 10 of this 17 eligible for next year if they want to play. That was a good way to finish for them, too.

"I've had a lot of these kids for the past four years.

"I'm just happy for them and happy with them, they've really worked hard."

Little players such as Brayden Reid, selected at fullback, but who played hooker and anywhere in the forwards, hooker Clay Frendin, under sized prop Kalab McMillan-Basset, back-rowers Sam Wentworth and Cooper Harris were fearless.

GREATER NORTHERN TIGERS 32 (Jhett Butler, Blair Maloney, Trent Taylor, Steven Dengate, Cooper Harris, Bailey Miller-Fairbairn tries; Taylor 2, Dengate 2 goals) d NORTHERN RIVERS TITANS 28 (Simon Pratt, Lachlan Hallard, Jahvis Kendall, Carl Lolohea, Kuyan Robert-Laurie tries; Thomas Vickey 4 goals)