The Forbes Platypi all but assured themselves of a home semi-final by taking down would-be title contenders Bathurst Bulldogs on Saturday, barring a disaster in the final regular season round.
Forbes produced an excellent second-half defensive effort on Saturday to claim a 24-13 win over Bulldogs, pushing them back into outright second on the ladder.
Considering the Platypi are four points clear of third-placed Dubbo Kangaroos, with Bulldogs one point further back, Forbes needs only to beat Dubbo Rhinos in the last round to ensure the qualifying semi-final is at Grinsted Oval.
The loss all but resigns Bulldogs to finishing fourth.
For the Bathurst side to move back into the top three and win two chances come finals time, it would have to upset undefeated competition-leaders Emus and hope Cowra knocks off Roos as well.
“If we want to get our season back on track then we need to roll the Emus,” Bulldogs coach Nathan Pearce, bitterly disappointed, said.
“It will be interesting to see how well we’re going to be able to hit back.”
Bulldogs led 13-10 at the break. The sides traded penalties early, then converted tries. A Bulldogs penalty late in the half pushed the side three points clear at half-time.
Then, the decisive moment came.
Bathurst half Josh Oxley left the field with a broken rib, he looks to gone for the year, and that sapped the side’s spark in attack.
The error count began to pile up for Bulldogs too, Forbes taking advantage, scoring to score two more unanswered tries and defending superbly to win 24-13.
“There’s no doubt losing Josh Oxley was a big moment for us. He was outscoring Mahe Fangupo before the break, which is a big achievement,” Pearce said.
“We played well in patches but we didn’t maintain possession. We weren’t executing and it cost us.
“We knocked on at untimely moments, weren’t throwing lineouts straight and our penalties weren’t finding touch.
“Those are the sorts of things we get right 99 per cent of the time, and the disappointing thing is that it was some of our more experienced players making the mistakes.
“Our guys certainly tried hard but you can’t win games like that.”