By STEVE SPINKS
CAMERON Gibson was the toast of Kyogle High last night after an exceptional two-try effort led his team to their second consecutive Northern Star Group One Rugby League Under-16 Secondary Schools Mid-Week Shield over a plucky Trinity Catholic College team.
Scores were locked 22-all at the end of full-time at New Park, Kyogle, but the hosts were declared the victors because they scored five tries to four.
The rules, which were read out at the start of the game, were misinterpreted by the Trinity team who jubilantly claimed victory at the sound of the hooter believing that because they scored the first try they would claim the Shield.
But their hopes were dashed when the rules were re-read over the ground's microphone.
However, it was a popular decision out Kyogle way and the big crowd erupted at the news.
Gibson, the five-eighth, was named player of the match.
He scored two tries and made a number of line-breaks and was solid in defence.
But even the Kyogle captain was left a little deflated at how the match was decided.
"It's awesome to win," Gibson said.
"But I don't know if it's real fair to win that way even though it's in the rules.
"But we'll take it."
Asked if he thought extra-time should have been used to break the deadlock the captain simply nodded his head.
It was a controversial end to what had been an exceptional game of junior league.
The quality of the players who turned out for both sides was outstanding and it is a credit to both schools and their coaches.
Trinity took the early lead through a Matt Tickle converted try and had the better of the early exchanges.
However, Kyogle hit back when Gibson ran on to a perfectly timed pass by lock Matt O'Reilly.
O'Reilly put his side in front 8-6 soon after when he ran inside out to outpace the cover defence.
The hard-running lock had a sensational game and finished just behind Gibson as the player of the match.
After Kyogle led 8-6 at half-time Kyogle crossed in the first minute of the second-half to extend their lead to 12-6 through winger Greg O'Reilly who was an Under-14 substitute.
Trinity hit back through halfback and skipper Chris DeGiusti to level the scores, before Kyogle hit the lead through Gibson's second try.
Again Trinity came back, this time through perpetual motion machine lock Joe Witt.
Soon after the Lismore school took a 22-18 lead after Witt and DeGiusti set up fullback Riley Edwards.
But a try two minutes from time by Kyogle fullback Josh Woolsley meant the scores were level when the full-time hooter sounded.
It was sad end for a gallant Trinity side.
Goalkicking five-eighth Ben Layton landed three from four and almost stole the victory for his team, while DeGiusti and Witt were simply outstanding.
Prop Mick Assim and hooker Sam Wotherspoon also shone, while Edwards was safe at the back.
For Kyogle, Gibson, O'Reilly, props Adam Bidner and Adam Gillard, centre Johnny Walker and second-rower Ian Marquis played prominent roles for the victors.
KYOGLE HIGH SCHOOL 22 (Cameron Gibson 2, Matt O'Reilly, Greg O'Reilly, Josh Woolsley tries; Matt Sorenson goal) drew with TRINITY CATHOLIC COLLEGE 22 (Matt Tickle, Chris DeGiusti, Joe Witt, Riley Edwards tries; Ben Layton 3 goals). Half-time: Kyogle 8-6. Referee: Will Constable. Man of the match: Cameron Gibson (Kyogle).