Young five-eighth Tane Edmed and his Eastwood allies held their nerve through a waterlogged 100-minute armwrestle to win their way into the Shute Shield grand final.
Wind and rain whipped the combatants all the way as the Woods clawed past Norths 12-9 in a tense, all-or-nothing semi-final that needed 20 minutes of extra time to split them.
It was a tryless scoreline straight from the Five Nations in the 1970s with Edmed knocking over four penalty goals with his superior goalkicking at Pittwater Rugby Park.
Twice, Norths five-eighth Angus Sinclair had chances to propel his side into the grand final when he lined up tough penalty goal attempts into the gusty wind.
Both times, the reliable Sinclair begged the kicks to find a little more length and curl left on the wind but they died to the right of the posts on each occasion.
THIS IS INSANE #ShuteShield— Dave (@Rugby_Sicko) October 25, 2020
The sweet reward for the drenched Eastwood outfit will be facing North Shore neighbours Gordon in Saturday’s grand final at Leichhardt Oval.
It will be Eastwood’s first grand final appearance since their 2015 premiership year and the first Eastwood-Gordon decider since 1976.
“It was a crazy game...I’ve never been part of a game like that,” Edmed told Channel Seven on the sideline at full-time.
“The other boys put in the hard yards (up front), I just do the kicking.
“It’s unbelievable (reaching this grand final) because a lot of people counted us out of the finals.”
Sinclair had a chance to decide the clash with time almost up in regular time with the scores locked at 6-all.
The ball hung out to the right. Players already fatigued to their limit had to turn around and slog through another 20 minutes.
Edmed slotted a penalty goal in the first extra period and Sinclair levelled for 9-all.
Edmed’s cannon boot had regularly relieved pressure for Eastwood through the afternoon with one gain of 55m from behind his own tryline.
When Norths prop Dewald Dekker was pinged for offside, Edmed made no mistake for a 12-9 jump.
A high tackle gave Sinclair a final chance with time almost up.
A success would only have levelled the scores at 12-all but Norths would have advanced because they finished higher on the table (3rd) compared to Eastwood (5th).
It missed but there was drama to the end. Impressive Norths lock Dave Henaway stole the final four-man lineout against the throw when the Woods only had to secure the wet footy to win it.
The Shute Shield this season, has been a breath of fresh air. Well done everyone. Look forward to the GF. https://t.co/hGFbVlBazo— Mark Roach (@MarkRoach4) October 25, 2020
The Shoremen had played much more of the rugby all game but the conditions were always against sure handling and their last desperate play broke down.
Edmed was all poise with the boot. One ankle-high pick up and relieving kick to touch was so quick it saved a potential disaster after halfback Matt Gonzalez had his own charged down.
Edmed had plenty of stout support. English fullback Chris Bell was strong with the boot as well, centre Enoka Muliufi carted the ball up to set up strong platforms all day and prop Rhys Sheriff set the early tone with a big shot in defence.
Edmed gave his side 3-0, 6-3 and 9-6 leads and each time Sinclair equalised.
The Shoremen played with the wind in the first half and kicking the ball as often as the conditions dictated actually muted their game.
Against the wind in the second half, they were more productive by keeping ball in hand. Hooker James Margan made an excellent run, tall timber Henaway and Declan Carroll both stayed heavily involved and centre Nathan Russell always threatened.
Sinclair’s fine penalty goal through the unfavourable wind to lock things up at 6-all with 12 minutes to play of regular time sent the semi-final to extra minutes.
EASTWOOD 12 (T Edmed 4 pen goals) defeated NORTHS 9 (A Sinclair 3 pen goals)
Saturday at Leichhardt Oval (3pm AEDT)
Gordon v Eastwood
Live TV on 7Two and 7plus
This article was originally published on RUGBY.com.au.