Getting The Gong In The ‘Gong

18 08 2013

The scene: The Dragons dwindling down the bottom of the ladder in 14th, and missing their strikes players Merrin and Dugan (among others) to injury. The Sharks up in 6th coming off the back of a 4 point loss to Newcastle, but with a near full squad, only Graham out injured, and mentally battling the ongoing ASADA investigations.

The view from my seat.

The view from my seat.

History was against the Sharks, having not won in Wollongong since ’89 (but while that’s 24 years, it’s not 24 games as the Sharks don’t travel down every season). The TAB doesn’t look at history though and had installed the Sharks $1.25 favourites (Dragons were out at $4).

So how do you think I felt as Sharks fan when the Dragons raced out to a 12-0 in about 7 minutes? Clearly it wasn’t following the script that I had written in my head.

I went to high school with this guy (K. Brennan, Holden Cup player)

I went to high school with this guy (K. Brennan, Holden Cup player)

But all was to upward after half-time. After trailing 18-6 at the break (Pomeroy scored the only try for the Sharks in the first half. The number on the back of my jersey just so happened to be that of Pomeroy’s too. It was 3).

I thought Feki had scored in the corner in the opening exchanges after he wrestles his way over, but it was pulled back for a forward pass. That was the second try the Sharks had been disallowed after Gallen was denied for an obstruction.

Some ground was clawed back after De Gois crossed after about an hour and Carney was able convert, making it 18-12.

Ryan crossed in the right hand corner with a bit fortune on his side. But because of the tough angle of the kick, Carney missed leaving it 18-16 to the Dragons. After that, I honestly thought that it was game over, knowing that the Dragons can grind out a win just as well as the Sharks. And the Sharks aren’t really renowned for their attacking ability. But this is 2013 and the Sharks have arguably the best all round line-up of my life time.

90 seconds were on the clock and still it was the Dragons by 2, and a miracle was about to unfold. Andrew Fifita was to out-sprint some outside backs and score the match winning try. Or so I thought. The ref had gone upstairs, my sense of relief had been replaced by anxiety. But he ruled try and just wanted to check onside and grounding.

Luke Lewis after the game

Luke Lewis after the game

My seating position wasn’t the ideal place to see the big screen, unless it was just my eye-sight (which is always a possibility – ed.) However, on the hill in front of the big screen was a decent sized contingent of Sharks fans, so when they went up after all replays, I knew it was good.

And it was! Finally, we had finally won in the ‘Gong. I have been to numerous NRL games in my life, but only four where I genuinely cared for the result. The first time I saw Sharks at Wollongong (we lost, I think it was 18-4). When I went to the State of Origin in Sydney (QLD won 28-24. Again, I think that was the score). And last year when the Sharks came back to the ‘Gong and we lost 16-10 (I’m sure that was the score, you tend to forget these things when your team loses).

So last night was the first time I left a stadium genuinely overjoyed. Especially considering I was the ‘enemy’ and my friend, ‘Charlie’, was a Dragons supporter and had a bit of a flutter on the game given the good return the Dragons were offering.

So now that I can tick “See the Sharks win” of my to-do list, I now have to go to a game at Cronulla and watch the team win up there so when I start belting out the team song I won’t be given the evils.

“Up, up Cronulla. The boys in the Black, White and Blue…..”