DUBBO Rhinos will have the chance to put some silverware in the club cabinet after benefiting from an archaic rule in their third grade preliminary final against Orange City on Saturday.
The Rhinos progressed to the decider on the back of a 19-all draw with the Lions courtesy of being the higher-placed team on the ladder at the end of the regular season.
After the scores were locked at the end of regulation time the teams played an extra five minutes each way and when neither side could add to their tally, full time was declared and the Rhinos were left to celebrate.
It was a hollow end to a match which deserved better as both sides battled hard and played some enterprising rugby at times.
Up against a much bigger side the Rhinos got off to a flying start when winger Chris Morton got on the end of some good work by centre Rowan Orcher to score the first try of the match.
Orcher converted and then banged over a penalty to extend the lead to 10 points before a converted try to Scott Barrett got the Lions within three points again.
Another penalty to Orcher gave the Rhinos a 13-7 lead which they took into the half-time break.
Big replacement forward Sam Vahaakolo scored the first points of the second half for the Lions before Orcher added another three points to take the home side’s lead out to four points.
Orange City had the chance to take the lead with 10 minutes remaining when winger Sione Amone found himself metres from the line and with open space ahead.
Instead of just putting the ball over the line he turned around and lairised to the Rhinos defenders before bouncing the ball when he attempted to score the try.
Fullback Scott Sullivan made up for it shortly after when he scored and Andy Hillan’s conversion gave the Lions a three-point lead however a 40m penalty strike from Orcher levelled things up.
The Group 11 league representative then had a chance to win the game for his side with a shot from halfway right on full-time but kicking into the breeze it fell short.
It mattered little though as the Rhinos held firm during extra time and booked themselves a spot in this Saturday’s grand final against cross-town rivals Dubbo Kangaroos.
DUBBO RHINOS 19 (Chris Morton try; Rowan Orcher 1 conv, 4 pens) drew ORANGE CITY LIONS 19 (Scott Barrett, Scott Sullivan, Sam Vahaakolo tries; Andy Hillan 2 convs).