There may have been some magic around the Mungoes New Era Cup grand final win on Saturday, with the CSU side sending off several veterans with a fairy-tale finish, but it didn't take away from the effort of the Orange Barbarians' season, according to their co-coaches.
The 30-nil result was a tough pill to swallow, the club's first grand final appearance in half a decade still capped off a huge reversal of fortune.
The Barbarians haven't felt much success over the past decade but battled adversity to hit top flight this year, sitting most of the season in second behind CSU before adversity hit.
That adversity was losing all the side's points on the eve of finals, forcing them to take the tough road to the grand final starting from fourth.
Captain-coach Ben Gosper said Saturday's loss it took nothing away from the Barbarians' season, marking the first appearance in a season decider in at least half a decade.
"We thought we had a good season, we've been building and building and finally got (to a grand final)," Gosper said.
"I'm proud of the the boys and how they went during the year."
While he lamented the fact the Barbarians finished the day scoreless, Gosper admitted the side was "outclassed" on the day and the Mungoes were "never going to lose on Saturday".
"They were just well prepared, they knew a lot of our play came off Britty and shut him down, they scored off the first set," he said, referring to CSU fullback Sam Groom scoring a try in the second minute on the back of a 50-metre run, with the result never in doubt following it.
"I've been here for four years and that was as outplayed as we've been in that time."
The paper-work "slip-up" - which was an administrative error that led to most of the Barbarian players being unregistered - was another crisis the club built through.
"It wasn't ideal preparation I suppose," Gosper said of losing points.
"I said to the guys to keep their heads up, a lot of the other sides were calling us cheats but we shrugged it off."
The 32-year-old is eager to go around again in 2020, as are most of the Barbarians outfit, but co-coach Mitch Britt is "still up the air" with a potential move to Newcastle in the works.
"Pretty good season, it was disappointing to finish it that way but happy we stuck it out," Britt said of the 2019 season.
His focus, however, will be on when the side tees up in a 11s Community Cup against Burrengong, Carcoar and CSU in the coming weeks.
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