OFFLOAD: Mudgee Wombats’ Ben Cheetham is crunched by the Charles Sturt University defence in Bathurst on Saturday. PHOTO: WESTERN ADVOCATE 060714/070514zrugby3RUGBY UNION
Mudgee Wombats have come within a whisker of winning their first Blowes Clothing Cup match since returning to the Central West’s top grade this year.
On Saturday the Wombats lost 26-25 to Charles Sturt University after leading 15-7 at half time.
The students finally had something to celebrate after claiming their long-awaited third win of the Central West season, coming from behind twice to defeat Mudgee at University Oval.
Down by eight points at half-time the home side lifted their game in the first 15 minutes after the break.
Mudgee retook the lead with 10 minutes to go but not long after a Tom Hudson try plus a Pat Hill conversion led to the students’ one point win.
The Wombats were left to rue three missed conversions, all coming in the first half, that could have proved the difference.
Mudgee coach Justin Sutherland said his side were gallant in defeat.
“Week in and out we’ve had a strong forward pack but our backs have been a problem. One missed kick at goal would have made a difference but that’s rugby and that’s how it goes,” he said.
“I thought the tight five were outstanding. Their set pieces have been good all year and they were good again today. Jonah [Poppe] on the wing, he only turned 18 last week and this was his first game in grade, let alone first grade, so he was very good too.
“It’s the same week in, week out. We’re competitive but we just can’t get over the line,” Sutherland said.
“We’ve got three backs coming back next week which would have helped our halves but we’ve got to suck it in again at training and try to work on our attack. Getting over the advantage line with our backs has been a problem for us all year.”
CSU coach James McLaren said he’ll take the win, regardless of how unconvincing his side were throughout much of the match.
“It’s pleasing for the boys to get a win. They’ve been working hard but they’ve been on the wrong side of that scoreboard,” he said.
“Thoughts go out to Mudgee who’d come so close and probably should have had that wrapped up. For them it would have been great to get their first win. To come so close it would be very bitter tasting.
“There’s a lot to work on but they’re happy and it’s good to see them smiling. We play in patches and look really good. It’s all about trying to find that consistency.
“Everything I tell them to do it seems we go out there for the first 25 minutes and do the opposite. I think I might just shut up from now on and just let them go.”
It was all Mudgee in the opening 20 minutes of the match, dominating possession and going close to the students’ line on a number of occasions.
After 15 minutes Mudgee shifted the ball left and had CSU right-side defence overlapped and allowing dangerous debutant Poppe a simple five-pointer.
A Poppe line break only several minutes later led to David Birch diving over just metres out and pushing the score out to 10-0.
CSU got themselves onto the board with 14 minutes left in half when they played on quickly from an offside penalty and Lachlan Brown caught Mudgee napping down the left wing. The conversion from the sideline got the home side back within three points.
Things took a bad turn for CSU just three minutes from half-time when Josh Gemmell was binned for not releasing the ball close to his own try line. Mudgee immediately punished through David Jessiman to go up 15-7.
On the return from half-time, Blake Ridges made Mudgee’s defence look average when he strolled through the visitor’s line 20 metres out.
When a penalty got Mudgee’s lead back out to 18-12 it was a cheeky pass from Cam Backhouse that got CSU one point up. Hugh Medway broke through the defence and handed the ball off to Backhouse who cut back inside only to lob a one-handed overhead pass to Brown on the wing who scored.
Adam Rayner got Mudgee’s noses back in front 25-19 with 10 on the clock before Hudson dashed the visitors’ dreams just two minutes later.
CSU 26 (Lachlan Brown 2, Blake Ridges, Tom Hudson tries; Pat Hill 3 conversions) defeated MUDGEE WOMBATS 25 (Jonah Poppe, David Birch, David Jessiman, Adam Rayner tries; Brian O’Reilly penalty goal; O’Reilly conversion)
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.