It’s a playmaker’s dream to win a game for their side by kicking a late field-goal – and Western Suburbs Magpies five-eighth Tyson Gamble has done it twice in two weeks.
First, the ice-cool Gamble nailed a last-ditch one-pointer from 32 metres against Mounties in Round 22 for a 31-30 victory.
He then repeated the heroics on Saturday, drilling a 76th-minute drop-goal to give Western Suburbs a crucial 25-24 result over the Wyong Roos.
But although he’s thrilled to have clinched back-to-back triumphs for the Magpies, Gamble hopes his trusty right boot won’t be needed to decide their next match.
“Hopefully next week it doesn’t go to a field-goal,” grinned a relieved Gamble shortly after full-time yesterday.
“It’s a good feeling getting the win. Whether it’s one point or ten points, it’s always a good feeling.”
Gamble’s latest game-sealing effort was even more impressive given he had to overcome an earlier blunder.
With the scores locked at 24-all in the 74th minute, Gamble kicked out on the full to hand Wyong the ball in field-goal territory. Fortunately for him, the Roos shanked the attempt.
One set later, the Magpies found themselves in one-point range and looked towards their star half to close out the match.
A lesser player might have been too flustered to focus after making an error moments before. Not Gamble.
“I sort of forgot about [the mistake] straight away. I just wanted to get on with the next defensive set and hoped they didn’t put a field-goal over,” he said.
“They missed, which was a bonus. Then we went up there the next set and got the one point.
“It did rattle me a bit, kicking it out on the full, but that happens – that’s footy.”
In his first season at Wests, Gamble was required to lift his game-management to another level after experienced halfback Josh Drinkwater departed the team in April to take up an offer in the UK Super League.
Gamble has certainly helped cover the void, producing 13 try assists and seven tries in his 19 appearances in 2018.
“It’s been a good season for the boys. We’ve had our ups and downs,” said Gamble. “Obviously losing Drinkwater rattled us a bit through the mid-season period, but we’ve begun to find our way lately.”
Gamble was rewarded for his fantastic personal form with an NRL debut for the Wests Tigers in round 15.
With club legend Benji Marshall currently contemplating retirement, there could be a permanent first-grade halves spot up for grabs at the Tigers in 2019 – and Gamble is firming as a contender.
However, the 22-year-old says making his way back to the top level hasn’t yet entered his thinking.
“I’m not too sure [about an NRL return]. I’m just hoping to finish the year strongly with the Magpies and then we’ll see how we go next pre-season and next year,” he said.
As the Intrust Super Premiership NSW finals loom large on the horizon, the most pressing matter for Gamble and the Magpies is securing a top-four finish.
Wests are now on 28 competition points and play the third-placed Newtown Jets – who are also on 28 points – in the final round of the regular season next Saturday. Winning is imperative if they’re to earn a valuable double-shot in the playoffs.
“Top-four would be a good finish for us,” said Gamble. “Hopefully we can get the win over Newtown next week.”
And if Wests do defeat the Jets, no doubt Gamble and his teammates would prefer to avoid another nail-biting finish.