A FINALS berth has slipped from the Cowra Magpies’ grasp in a tense 32-30 Group 10 loss to reigning premiers Orange CYMS yesterday.
Four unanswered tries in a 10-minute period swung momentum in the visitors’ favour after the Magpies held a 20-6 lead at half-time.
It was one that got away according to Cowra coach Craig Jeffries.
“It is shattering, but it has been the story of our season,” he said.
“Half-time was the worst thing that could have happened to us. We lost all momentum and we had to try and win the game twice. It’s hard enough to beat them once, and we tried to snatch it in the end but they were too hungry.”
The first half of the match was all Cowra with centre Brad Wright getting the home side on the board after just five minutes.
Tries to Blake Duncombe and Simon Pettit followed to give the Magpies a 14-0 lead.
CYMS looked anything but premiership contenders as execution let them down on countless occasions but they finally found the line in the 35th minute through Pat Gibson.
Cowra regrouped and negated CYMS effort with Grant Kitchingman scoring in the corner and the Magpies walked off in the break with what seemed to be a match-winning lead.
CYMS’ captain-coach Michael Sullivan was disappointed with the first-half performance.
“I wasn’t as heated as I usually am, but I said that we have nearly thrown away in 40 minutes what we had worked so hard for 14 rounds - a top two spot,” he said.
“They out-enthused us and they do that at home here. I asked them to dig deep and push for each other.”
The signs were better from the restart for CYMS and, with the Magpies guilty of ball watching, they closed the gap in the 44th minute when Dom Maley crossed to trail 20-10.
Cowra edged ahead again to 24-10 when Grant Kitchingman scored his double on a last play scramble.
The 54th minute began an avalanche of possession and tries that eventually would be the Magpies’ undoing as Sam Hill was on the end of a nice interchange of passes before Sullivan’s beautifully weighted crosskick found Cody Robins.
Scott Piper grabbed his four pointer shortly after followed by Larson Marabe and CYMS had turned the game on its head to lead 32-24.
Cowra rallied and a late try to Phil Ingram gave them hope but they fell short in the end.
“It panned out very similar to how I thought,” Sullivan said.
“They came out really strong and we were off and they capitalised more than once.
“We are usually a second-half side and to our boys’ credit we got a roll on and we scored points quickly.
“We can’t rely on scoring quick points with semi-finals defence - we’ve got a lot of work to do because we aren’t where we want to be at this time of the year.”
ORANGE CYMS 32 (Patrick Gibson, Dom Maley, Sam Hill, Cody Robins, Scott Piper, Larson Marabe tries; Sam Hill 2, Cody Robbins 3 goals) def COWRA 30 (Grant Kitchingman 2, Brad Wright, Simon Pettit, Blake Duncombe, Phil Ingram tries; Caley Mok 4 goals).