The Clarence Town Cobras will need to win their next two games to secure a crucial double chance in this year’s Newcastle and Hunter Ruby League C-grade finals.
An undermanned Cobras lost 42-22 to Kaurah in Saturday’s round 10 catch-up game at Lionel Morton Oval.
It was a costly loss for the Cobras, with Cardiff and Kaurah now a point clear of them in second and third on the table respectively and only two rounds to play.
Clarence Town needs to beat Raymond Terrace this week and then pull off an upset away against competition leaders Glendale in the final round to be guaranteed a top three finish.
Cardiff and Karuah meet in the final round, but both have games against teams they would be expected to beat in Swansea and Maitland United this weekend.
We started with three on the bench and one of those guys was a back which made the rotation of our forwards difficult.
“The loss will make it hard for us to get a top three finish and a double chance,” Clarence Town coach Peter Maytom said.
“We have to win our last two games, which includes an away game to competition leader Glendale.
“We can only concentrate on what we can do.
“Otherwise we are in the elimination final against Hexham Jets.”
Maytom declined to find excuses for Saturday’s loss, but the Cobras entered the game without the suspended Sam Dunn, Joe Gorton, Brad Johnson and fullback Kurt Blowse.
“We started with three on the bench and one of those guys was a back which made the rotation of our forwards difficult,” he said.
“It told on us at the end of the game, when the guys hit the wall after a heavy workload.”
Clarence Town had a promising start, but a penalty count heavily in Karuah’s favour in the first half had the Cobras continually on the back foot.
“We started well and had Karuah under pressure in the first 10 minutes, but things turned when a couple of penalties went their way and gave them possession,” Maytom said.
“They led to back-to-back tries and you really can’t afford to give Karuah any momentum.
“Once you let them get on a roll they make you pay and are hard to stop.
“Their outside backs are quick and strong and they got on top.”
The Cobras managed to score a late converted try but went into the half-time break down 6-32.
Clarence Town responded after the break and put on the first three tries to trail 22-32.
“We did a terrific job to get ourselves back in the game but we had burnt a lot of petrol tickets and when they scored in the 32nd minute of the second half we couldn’t come back,” Maytom said.
“They ran it a couple of late tries to take the score out, but I was pretty proud of the boys considering the players we were missing and the troubles in giving the forwards a rest.”
Maytom said George Dunn, Rob Elliott, Shane Lewis and Phil Badior all had very good games.
“George played at lock and had a great game. He won the players’ player and best forward awards,” he said.
“Shane Lewis moved from wing into fullback to cover for Kurt Blowes and did a good job.
“Missing Kurt was a big blow as he has been best back in probably 14 of the 15 games he has played.
“Rob Elliott had a good game in the front row and Phil Badior as ever stood up when we needed him.”
Sam Dunn returns from suspension next week and Kurt Blowes will be available as well for Saturday’s clash against Raymond Terrace at Lakeside Oval. Kick off is at 3pm.
Weekend off for Warriors
The Dungog Warriors collected two points and got the weekend off after Belmont South forfeited Sunday’s round 10 catch-up round.
The Warriors are now guaranteed a top-two finish sitting second on the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League B-grade ladder seven points clear of Belmont South in third, with Dudley a point further adrift in fourth.
B-grade’s final series will feature eight teams this season.
Dungog start their run home to the finals with the road trip to Dudley on Saturday, with kick off at 3pm.
The Warriors finish the regular season with a home game against North Newcastle on Saturday, August 19.
Juniors right in title hunt
Dungog recorded wins in under-10, under-11, under-14 divisions in round one of the junior rugby league finals.
All three teams advance this week and will join the under-15 and under-16 teams, who were minor premiers in their divisions, in the second semi-final stage and the chance to advance straight to the grand final.
The under-14 team’s class showed in the second half running out 32-12 winners.
The under 11s had a comfortable 12-0 win against Greta Branxton, while the under 10s overcame a slow start to run out 28-24 winners against Thornton Beresfield.
The under-13s had a 40-14 loss to Cardiff but are still alive courtesy of the double chance for finishing third.