CEMENTING a place in the Group 10 top three, an unconvincing Orange CYMS has come away with a 26-22 victory over Bathurst Panthers at Wade Park.
Coming up trumps with a brilliant attacking 40 minutes to lead the men in black 18-0 at half-time, the green and golds switched off big time in the second stanza to invite Panthers back into the contest.
It was an invitation the visitors accepted with glee.
Turning back the clock, a vintage try to William Kennedy was followed by a four-pointer to Blake Lawson, with the latter booting home one of the conversion attempts to sail Panthers back into the match at 18-10.
Jarrod Robbins scored his second try for CYMS midway through the term to nudge the margin back out to 12 points but unconverted tries to Chris Shepherd and Mitch Davis brought the Bathurst club to within striking distance at 22-18.
With all of the running, a Panthers comeback was in full swing and with fullback Matt Rose providing the finishing touches on a number of attractive Bathurst plays, points were coming freely.
But with five minutes remaining Rose tried his hand with a long ball on halfway.
An all-or-nothing play, if the sublime pass hits Kennedy on the chest the evergreen centre races upfield with a throng of support and only Tim Bassmann to beat.
Sadly for Panthers it ended in nothing.
CYMS centre Scott Piper plucked the long ball out of nowhere to race 50 metres and score what would be the difference for the home side.
Panthers found the line inside the final three minutes through Josh Small and, after opting against taking a conversion, played hot-potato rugby league after the ensuing kick-off only for play to break down and the ball enter touch with time nearly non-existent.
Ending at 26-22, injured CYMS captain-coach Mick Sullivan said with young players in key positions the green and golds would be subjected to inconsistency.
But after similar performances against Blayney and before that Lithgow, the lack of polish was wearing thin on the former NRL gun.
“The second half we didn’t get to a long kick, didn’t get a repeat set ... things like that. It comes with experience,” he said.
“Up 18-0, it’s not about winning by huge margins it’s about avoiding the scare we got and giving teams a sniff. This year we probably haven’t done that well. We haven’t put games to bed like we should.”
Missing the likes of Group 10 hooker Luke Carpenter, fullback Cody Robbins and back-rower Blake Seager, a four-point loss was a gallant result for the severely undermanned Panthers.
Fullback Matt Rose praised his side’s effort, led by in-form prop Brent Seager.
He believes with troops returning and experience building, the men in black can make an impact on the 2014 Group 10 premiership.
“If we can turn up and play like that each week I’m sure we’ll give it a good crack to make the finals, and I know most teams won’t like playing us in the finals if we get there,” Rose said.
“CYMS are on top of the table, so to put on a performance like that I thought was pretty good. We never gave up.”
In just his second game in the top grade, halfback Tom Stonestreet showed glimpses of what he is capable of, sending Semisi Katoa over for a double before laying on a third try for Kyran Bubb in a strong first half showing.
“He was outstanding in that first half, there was good shape, he and Macca [Ben McAlpine] gelled really well,” Sullivan added.
ORANGE CYMS 26 (Jarrod Robbins 2, Semisi Katoa 2, Kyran Bubb, Scott Piper tries; Ben McAlpine goal) def BATHURST PANTHERS 22 (William Kennedy, Blake Lawson, Mitch Davis, Josh Small, Chris Shepherd tries; Lawson goal).