Greta Branxton Colts win Newcastle and Hunter Community Rugby League under-18 premiership after thrilling 26-20 win at expense of Denman Devils

THE Greta Branxton Colts secured its maiden under-18 premiership, thanks to a barnstorming finish at Greta Central Oval on Saturday afternoon.

In front of a massive home crowd, capped at 500 people, the hosts overcame a 12-point deficit to stun the Denman Devils 26-20 in the grand final of the Newcastle and Hunter Community Rugby League Competition.

But, the fixture wasn't without controversy either.

With the Devils leading 20-8 at the end of the third quarter, the Colts were awarded a try after the siren.

The decision seemed to take the wind out of the Denman sails - and provided Greta Branxton with plenty of momentum heading into the final period.

That's not to say the Colts didn't deserve their victory, they certainly did.

And, now, captain Hayden Regan (who was also awarded man of the match honours), Matthew Guy, Cain Bonham, Will Regan, Will Sanders, Zach Ellis, Reuben Andrews, Pat Andrews, Ethen Spliet-Miller, Harry Reid, Cody Guenthroth, Lane Jurd, Nic Holland, Noah Ambrum, Dan McCann, Harry Drayton, Ethan Hartcher, Jack Pryor and Fletcher Warrington have etched their names in the club's history books.

Victorious coach Mark "Mirrors" Bercini was obviously delighted with the win.

"You really saw the spirit in the side [today]," he said.

"They were down 20-8 at one stage, however the cream rose to the top.

"I'm very proud of the boys; there were some terrific performances out on the field.

"It is a great result for the club, too.

"To be honest, it's fantastic - Greta Branxton's under-18s last played a grand final in 2008.

"But, this is the Colts' first title in that grade."

Will Regan got the ball rolling with an early try.

However, Denman playmaker Mitch Henderson soon levelled up with one of his own. He then added the extras for a 6-4 scoreline.

The Devils extended that margin to 12-4, courtesy of Alex McNeill and another Henderson goal.

The Colts struck back, via winger Bonham, to trail 12-8 at the break.

A scintillating individual effort by Ned Chapman, and McNeill's second, put Denman in the box seat at 20-8.

Then, just seconds after the siren sounded to mark three-quarter time, Guenthroth dived over near the uprights. While many thought the try would be denied, the decision remained.

Pat Andrews converted to make it 20-14.

In the final term, and with the Colts in a buoyant mood, a Devils' error proved costly.

Andrews dived on the loose ball, for a crucial four-pointer, and landed the subsequent goal to tie up the encounter, 20-all.

Reid sealed the outcome with a well-deserved try in the dying minutes, which was converted by Andrews.

Earlier in the day, the Thornton Beresfield Bears outlasted Greta Branxton 16-4 in the under-14 decider of the Hunter Valley Combined Rugby League season.

GRETA BRANXTON COLTS 26 (Will Regan, Cain Bonham, Cody Guenthroth, Pat Andrews, Harry Reid tries; Andrews 3 goals) defeated DENMAN DEVILS 20 (Alex McNeill 2, Mitch Henderson, Ned Chapman tries; Henderson 2 goals)