Group 20 rugby league
YENDA have staged a remarkable recovery to keep their season alive after defeating Bidgee Hurricanes 42-22 in Saturday's elimination semi-final.
The Hurricanes had no answers for Yenda's rampant attack with the Blueheelers scoring six straight tries to take the match away from Bidgee.
Yenda scored three tries in the last nine minutes of the first half to lead 22-10 at the break and continued the onslaught after the break.
The Blueheelers staged a Lazarus-like recovery after coach Roy Romeo ruled out influential players Tom Sellars, Kodie Charles and Jarrad Williams with injury and rated playmakers Shannon Rupapere and David Rauluni only 50-50 chances of lining up against the Hurricanes.
Romeo told The Area News last week that his team needed "a miracle" for the five to by fit to take their place, but that's what happened, as all five had a major impact on the game.
Gary Ingram opened the scoring for the Hurricanes after the nine minutes but Yenda quickly levelled the scores after Apaisi Loaloadravu produced a brilliant half-volley pick up to score in the corner.
Former Yenda player Steve Matthews put the Hurricanes back in front after 18 minutes when he waltzed his way over the line before three quick tries put the ‘Canes on the back foot coming into half-time.
Williams regathered his own grubber kick to give Yenda the lead for the first time before Geff Cook scored off a set play from the scrum base.
Tom Warner scored his first of two tries just before half-time to extend the Blueheelers lead before second half tries to Sellars, Trey Woodland and Rupapere sealed the victory.
The Hurricanes were able to score two consolation tries late in the match, but by then their season was already over.
Romeo was impressed with how his team defended, especially how they were able to limit the impact of Hurricanes coach Chris Bamford.
“They played well the boys, they really stuck to their structures, defended really well and got the rewards,” he said.
“The first 20 was a bit worrying but once we got in our rhythm we completed our sets and really out-tackled and out-defended them.
“We kept Bamford pretty quiet so that was our goal. We nullified him which was our plan so full credit to our defence – they were just great.”
The Hurricanes loss completes a poor finish to their season after losing four of their final five games, with their sole victory coming against the struggling Waratah Tigers.
Bamford said his team had underperformed this season with handling errors and poor defence ruining their final game of the season.
“It reflects our season to be honest – we really under-performed and I’m pretty disappointed actually,” he said.
“The under-performance and the drop balls just really shows where we are on the ladder and it showed it out there.”
Bamford said his team was flat throughout the match and contributed that to their form “slump”, especially coming off a 54-18 loss to Leeton in the previous week.
Bamford is undecided on where his future lies after coaching Bidgee for the past two seasons and is still in talks with the club.
He has also been linked to other teams in the region including Group Nine club Southcity.
Romeo believes his team is finding form at the right time of the season but will again be one defeat from having their season over when the host West Wyalong in Saturday’s minor semi-final.