Lithgow Workies defied a slow start and a rare grand final send off to cap off the most memorable of Group 10 first division premierships on Sunday against Bathurst Panthers, hammering the hosts to complete a dominant, undefeated campaign.
Played in front of a building crowd at Carrington Park, Workies stormed to a 38-16 victory despite winger John Nankervis receiving his marching orders with 25 minutes to go.
The send off seemed to steel the Workies side and instead of faltering the 12-man minor premiers galvanised to incredibly pile on another four tries in the back end of the game and put the men in black to the sword.
I thought we were going to struggle being a player down ... but that just seemed to fire the boys up.Workies captain Jimmy Rhinhardt
Those tries came through Nick Gardner-Miller, Jake Gale, Connor Legge and veteran star Brendon Van Veen and added to Brent Brogan's first-half double and Scott McCann's four-pointer to secure the club's second Group 10 first division premiership in the last three years.
Workies were actually forced to come-from-behind after trailing 10-nil early, making their grand final victory all the more spectacular, with the Lithgow faithful erupting at Carrington Park as the full-time whistle was blown.
Workies scored 34 unanswered points after the mountain men's uncharacteristically slow start allowed Panthers to score the first two tries of the grand final.
Stuart Peel and Andrew Bennett got on the board early for the men in black but those early four-pointers proved only a flash in the pan, with Mike Wicks' consolation try in the 65th minute coming 43 minutes after Panthers raced to that 10-nil lead.
"I thought we were going to struggle being a player down ... but that just seemed to fire the boys up," Workies captain Jimmy Rhinhardt said.
"We've been blessed with the blokes we've got up front. We've had a great pack all year. They make metres, make a quick play-the-ball and make great metres."
"It was great that we were able to stick with them for a while," Panthers captain Callum Young said.
"We just gave away too many penalties and they just got a roll on."
- LITHGOW WORKIES 38 (Brent Brogan 2, Scott McMann, Nick Miller, Jake Gale, Conner Legge, Brendan Van Veen tries; Hayden Cornwell 3, Lleyton Lothian 2 goals) def BATHRUST PANTHERS 16 (Mike Wicks, Stuart Peel, Andrew Bennett tries; Braydon Wicks 2 goals)
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