Orange CYMS captain-coach Mick Sullivan fears his side surrendered vital momentum to Bathurst St Pat’s in Saturday’s 12-10 loss at Wade Park.
And the responsibility of halting that momentum will again fall in green and gold laps.
The two sides will square off in the Group 10 major semi-final in Orange next Sunday, with the winner to face minor premiers Lithgow for the right to play in, and host, the 2012 decider.
Saturday’s result, and Mudgee’s shock loss to Oberon, propelled St Pat’s into third position on the ladder.
Sullivan knows his troops face a big task in one week’s time.
“Momentum is always a big factor in semi-finals,” Sullivan said.
“They’ll be confident coming back here and it won’t be easy for us to turn it around.
“It was disappointing for us today, but other results have gone our way, so we’ll still get two bites at the cherry in the semis.”
Things started brightly enough for the defending premiers, with Sullivan booting a 40-20 kick in his side’s first set.
The visitors looked nervous in the opening exchanges, knocking on with their first use of the ball and then throwing a forward pass with their second.
Yet it was St Pat’s who opened the scoring in the 7th minute.
When CYMS’ winger Cody Robbins spilt the ball in collecting a kick St Pat’s toed ahead, with second-rower Brent Dennis just touching out a retreating Tim Bassmann to claim the try.
Bassmann looked to have won the race, but referee Nathan Blanchard pointed to the spot, and Joey Coughlan added the extras for a 6-nil lead to the visitors.
St Pat’s had chances to extend their lead in the first 40 minutes - notably when last line of defence Bassmann pulled down a rampaging Dennis - but the advantage remained at a converted try as the teams went to the sheds.
The hosts began the better in the second period, Bassmann crossing for a try just two minutes after the resumption when Sullivan had put centre Dom Maley through a yawning hole.
Robbins added the extras to square the ledger.
Just five minutes later CYMS took the lead when Scott Piper crossed on the left hand side, with St Pat’s’ Zac Merritt placed on report for a high challenge on the try-scorer.
But the advantage was short-lived.
Merritt made CYMS pay for an error in the own half, taking three across the line with him to lock up the scores at ten-all.
Coughlan kicked true again, and St Pat’s were never headed.
CYMS pivot Claude Gordon was also placed on report in the game’s dying stages for an alleged elbow while he was trying to play the ball.
St Pat’s coach Mick Armstrong was delighted with the result.
“It was a really tough game,” said Armstrong, who is recovering from a full knee reconstruction.
“Like CYMS we’re an attacking side, we like to throw the footy around, and that wasn’t really possible today.”
Armstrong reserved special praise for Merritt, who was a standout for either side.
For CYMS, Bassmann loomed as the biggest attacking threat, while interchange forward Pat Gibson was busy in defence.
BATHURST ST PAT’S 12 (Brent Dennis, Zac Merritt tries, Joey Coughlan 2 goals) def ORANGE CYMS 10 (Tim Bassmann, Scott Piper tries, Cody Robbins goal).