Blue Lake Knights fall short at 11th hour

PUSHING HARD: Blue Lake Knights’ Chris Driver takes on the Naracoorte Jets’ defensive line during Round 6 of the Limestone Coast Rugby League fixture on Saturday at Nangwarry oval. Picture: TREVOR JACKSON

IT was a heart-breaking result for Mount Gambier’s Blue Lake Knights in Round 6 of Limestone Coast rugby league on Saturday, with a four-point loss to reigning premiers Naracoorte Jets.

The Knights desperately needed a win to keep their season alive, but at the 11th hour the Jets crossed the line for a try to break the deadlock and claim the win.

For Knights president Brenton Hodge it was a disappointing result, after a solid opening half which saw the home side lead by two points at the Nangwarry oval.

“We had them on the ropes and could not capitalise,” Hodge said.

“We had a good first half with three tries.

“We converted one and went to the break in the lead.”

While just one of those tries were converted by the Knights, a further two attempts narrowly missed the target.

One shot dropped just short under the cross bar, while the second failed to drift in on the breeze.

In contrast the Jets managed two tries and converted both.

Hodge said the plan unfolded well, with a good running game and strong defence.

That gave the Knights several opportunities on their own try line, but the defensive effort from the Jets held strong to deny any further tries.

“We were running ball well and our defence came together,” Hodge said.

“They were really switched on in defence and we were held up close to the line on several occasions, so we could have had a bigger lead at half time.”

The second half saw the Knights add an extra 16 points, but it was not enough to hold off a determined Jets outfit.

“We always knew they were going to score,” Hodge said.

“You kind of hope they do not but you have to be realistic.

“We were thinking just keep in front and keep plugging away at the scoreboard and hopefully in the second half we could pull away, but it did not happen.

“But I think one positive was we were getting some tries on the board and getting our conversions.

“We were able to up our intensity and try to match them.”

In the end the result came down to a try with just minutes left on the clock.

“It came down to the last try of the game,” Hodge said.

“We were up and they drew even, then got a try in the last five minutes to win.

“It was hard, because we were showing some strong defence.

“They had broken through a couple of times and we were able to stop them.”

It was the second time in as many games the Knights had met the Jets, with the latter claiming the honours on both occasions.

Round 4 saw a six-point margin favouring the Jets, with the Knights then having the advantage of a bye to recover.

Hodge said this time around it was a much better effort.

“This was a big step up from the last time we played them,” he said.

“We are seeing a better work rate from everyone which is good.

“They just cut us open with a few holes and were able to score, which was disappointing.”

The game also saw a healthy crowd head out to Nangwarry to watch the game, which Hodge said was another positive for the side as they battle to raise the profile of the sport deep in Australian Rules territory.

The Knights now focus on this weekend’s game, where they face the Horsham Panthers at Warrnambool in what should be another victory.

“With the effort from the boys and the way we have been pushing, we would hope for a win,” Hodge said.

“We have to keep our confidence levels up, hopefully we will get good numbers at training and hit the ground running.”

Meanwhile any rugby league fans can head to the Knights’ Facebook page for details about a raffle to raise money for the league.

Up for grabs is a signed, framed Sydney Roosters NRL premiership guernsey.

Tickets are available at the games, or by contacting the club.