THE Griffith Blacks’ grand final dream has come to a crushing halt after falling at the last hurdle to Temora in Saturday’s Romano’s Cup preliminary final.
Given a second chance to extend their season after dropping down to the second tier of the competition, the Blacks had no answer to the Tuskers’ second half dominance.
The Blacks trailed by only seven points at half-time, but were unable to gain control of the match, with Temora running away comfortable winners to earn a place in the grand final against Ag College.
“The end result was disappointing and there is no hiding the fact that we didn’t play well enough and they were too good for us,” coach Lee Kimball said.
“The first half was pretty good and we were still in it at half-time, but then we ran out of legs and their pressure was too good for us.”
Placed in the unusual position of dropping down to the second tier after an unsuccessful second half of the season playing against the stronger teams in the competition, Kimball believes a lack of match-winning confidence affected his team.
“I was surprised with how well Temora played, they were coming off a good second half of the season. I think they’ve won seven in a row, whereas we’ve come off no wins so our confidence wasn’t in the same spot,” he said.
“To be fair to them they just played better than us. Their continuous pressure kept us on the back foot and they took their opportunities when they came and in the end they ran over the top of us.
“Their confidence was up and ours wasn’t as high, but we still had confidence in our own ability. It was just that they played better than us.”
Despite not finishing the season off as planned, Kimball is still happy with how the team has progressed throughout the year with a youthful line-up.
“It is disappointing how we finished up the season, but I’ve been doing the numbers and 10 or 11 of our 23 that played in the first grade final are 21 years or under – with five 18-year-olds – so that holds us in good stead,” Kimball said.
“I said to the boys after the game that if everyone sticks together and we get a few more games under our belts we will have a really good squad and that’s what we need to take away.
“We’ve built from last year to this year and if we take another step, work even harder and stick together next year, then we will be even better.”
Kimball praised the efforts of a number of his squad in yesterday’s performance, who have been among the Blacks’ best throughout the season.
“Leon Tiere, Enoch Tia, Michael Stalley and Tom Russell played well, along with Lorenza Tafili and Johnny Brown, who
all played their usual high standard of footy so that was pleasing.”
The Blacks’ second grade team also couldn’t progress to the grand final after a riveting second half comeback wasn’t enough to defeat Deniliquin in extra time.
Trailing 17-0 in the second half, the Griffith outfit stormed back to level the scores at 20-all at full-time, but couldn’t hold on, falling 27-20.
The women’s sevens rugby team continued their undefeated season, earning a place in the grand final against Leeton with a 48-0 win over Charles Sturt University.