TWO out of three ain’t bad.
Orange CYMS’ run at a third straight Group 10 premier league crown came to an almighty halt yesterday as Lithgow Workies completed one of the most dominant grand final displays in recent memory with a 40-14 victory.
Played in front of a packed Tony Luchetti Sportsground in Lithgow, the home side bullied the two-time defending premiers into submission, piling on four unanswered first half tries to set up the memorable win.
Lithgow were simply too big and too strong for CYMS.
And with the class of Dave Scott medallist Taf Nicolas at five-eighth, Workies were good enough to capitalise on its pack’s muscle up front with Nicolas scoring a personal haul of 20 points in the decider romp.
Nicolas was a man possessed in a team destined to win its first Group 10 premier league title since 2005.
You couldn’t wipe the smile off the face of coach Graeme Osborne.
“I’m pretty chuffed,” Osborne said amongst his team’s celebrations yesterday.
“I lost one in Mudgee in 2009 (32-29) and then CYMS (30-12) last year. What do they say? Third time lucky.”
On the other side of the coin, CYMS were left battered and bruised.
CYMS player-coach Mick Sullivan made his return from a hamstring issue off the bench mid-way through the first half and lifted his team to a degree, but against a Lithgow side on a mission Sullivan’s efforts were in vain.
“They were just too good,” he said sporting a black left eye.
“They came out strong and we didn’t match them. We were pretty bad at the start and didn’t get it back from there. They’ve probably been the best side all year. It’s well deserved.”
Lithgow’s desire to win was evident from the opening whistle.
They were physically dominant, winning the arm wrestle against CYMS on the back of some bullish defence in a game that provided several massive collisions.
And it paid dividends on the scoreboard.
At the seven-minute mark Nicolas opened the scoring for Lithgow when he regathered his own little grubber in behind CYMS’ defensive line to score.
His own conversion made it 6-0.
Three minutes later the home side then made it 12-0 with a converted try to prop Chris Rhodes and later rammed home its advantage when Sam George ended a brilliant team try, taking Lithgow’s tally to 16 points in as many minutes.
If CYMS were going to win, they were going to have to do it the hard way.
And Sullivan knew it.
Sitting on the bench watching on as his side’s dream of a Group 10 three-peat was brutally crushed by Lithgow’s pack, Sullivan injected himself into the game at hooker and made an immediate impact.
Nearing the half-hour point of the contest with CYMS on the attack, Sullivan darted out of dummy half, drew two defenders and sent a lovely cut out pass to a flying Cody Robbins to score in the corner.
It was the try the green and golds desperately needed.
However, it was called back for a forward pass.
In the next set Lithgow went 80 metres and Nicolas again kicked ahead for himself, regathered and this time off loaded to hooker Aaron Christie Johnson to score Lithgow’s fourth try of the half.
It was the 12-point turn around that sent CYMS packing.
Lithgow went into half-time up 22-0 and were never headed.
In a second half littered with niggle, penalties and a highlights reel’s worth of big hits, Lithgow came out on top thanks to further tries to Brendon Van Veen, Nicolas’ second and Scott Fittler to complete the 26-point rout.
CYMS initially hit back through Larsen Marabe early in the second period but found themselves staring at a 40-6 deficit before late consolation tries to Dom Maley and Group 10 Player of the Year Tim Bassmann brought the final margin to 40-14.
Nicolas had a field day, but it was the work of Osborne’s big men that set up the victory.
“That’s the footy we’ve been playing all year,” the Lithgow mentor said.
“We play it up the middle of the ruck. We’ve got size and boys that want to cart the ball forward so you play to your strengths and that’s it.”
Sullivan added: “They’re always physical, that’s their go.”
“We let them get the best of us in the last two games of the year where it counts.”
LITHGOW WORKIES 40 (Taf Nicolas 2, Sam George, Aaron Christie-Johnson, Chris Rhodes, Brendon Van Veen, Scott Fittler tries; Nicolas 6 goals) def ORANGE CYMS 14 (Tim Bassmann, Dom Maley, Larsen Marabe tries; Cody Robbins goal).