Leeton’s premiership defence is still alive after a thrilling win over Tumut.
The Phantoms scored the last two tries of the game to take a 22-21 victory at Conolly Rugby Complex on Saturday.
Leeton had players yellowed carded twice in the first half, but still managed to find the answers late.
Captain Tim Rolls was thrilled with their defensive effort to move within a win of back-to-back grand final appearances.
Especially when playing a man down.
“I was very impressed with how the boys defended in that space of time,” Rolls said.
“To be down one man for a half of a half is pretty hard to fight against, especially with teams like Tumut running around with big units.”
Both teams were without key players for the clash.
Tumut were without Southern Inland representative player Josef Glamuzina with a rib injury while Joe Kafoa-Pene missed out for the Phantoms due to work commitments.
The Bulls took advantage of having Kris Sales yellow carded when Mitch Ivill sliced through to score.
However the Phantoms scored twice with Sales off as well.
Joe Ratu hit back for the premiers before Manasa Rokomatoto scored a long range effort minutes later to lead 10-7.
However with Freddy Tupou given his marching orders after a high tackle Tumut went into the break ahead after a long range effort from Will McLennan-Dye.
The centre made a break before finding support in Ivill before getting the ball back to hand the Bulls a 14-10 lead.
They extended that advantage after turning down three penalty goals from in front before Andy Graham crashed over.
Tumut dominated the start of the second half, however against a side with as many attacking weapons, you can never be comfortable.
In the end an overthrown line-out right on their line proved to be crucial.
After forcing a Phantoms mistake, Tim Graham overshot the mark and the ball fell to Sai Ratudradra who scored.
Minutes later Leeton were in front when Ratu slipped out of a Ivill tackle and the Bulls didn’t really have another good opportunity to score.
Rolls was thrilled with how his team hung in their to come away with the hard-fought win.
“The first part of the second half they were all over us, had most of the ball and dominated territory but we were just lucky to hold on and grind it out,” he said.
“Eventually we managed to get our share of the ball and put the points on.”
Rolls is hopeful Kafoa-Pene will be able to tackle Ag College in the preliminary final at Tumut next Saturday.
They’ve lost twice to Aggies in the past three weeks.