South Sydney’s SG Ball (under 18s) side have wrapped up their 2016 campaign after going down to the Illawarra Steelers by 30-28 in the Preliminary Final at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday.

Just one game away from the Grand Final, the Matt King-coached side endured a tough opening to the match that saw them down 18-0 after just 15 minutes of play.

By half-time, the men in Red and Green had clawed back to 22-12 thanks to some much-needed renewed energy, and even led the game 24-22 during much of the second half.

But the fast-finishing Steelers would ultimately take the points on the day as well as the coveted Grand Final berth – running out 30-28 victors.

Campbell Graham grabbed a try-scoring double, while Dean Hawkins, Blake Manowski, and Mawene Hiroti also contributed four-pointers – Hiroti also kicking four goals.

For coach King, while the result was disappointing, the vital experience earned by his players was a point of focus.

“I’m really proud of the effort this season,” said King.

“It’s disappointing that we couldn’t come away with the result we wanted, but the experience that the boys will have taken out of that is something that will shape them moving forward.

“At this stage of their development, it’s a huge learning curve and things can only be negative if you don’t learn. These boys will have gotten plenty out of this season.

“This is the last time many of these boys will play together because they graduate to the next stage, while some will be here next year, so it’ll certainly be exciting to follow how everyone develops from here on.”

King’s side finished the regular season in fourth position on the SG Ball ladder before proceeding to play three finals matches – winning Week 2 against Parramatta by 24-8.

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