GROUP 20 has secured a 16-point victory over Group 7 in Forbes on Saturday to earn a passage through to the CRL Tier Two Country Championship final for the second time in three years.
Overcoming a sluggish first half which saw Group 20 give up its early lead, the local side stormed home and into the championship game where they will be looking to
emulate their success from 2010.
Group 20 coach Trevor Richards said his side were at times their own worst enemies with a poor completion rate in the first half giving Group 7 more than enough chances to control the tempo of the semi-final.
“The guys could see what was happening in that first half when things went wrong, so there was no point in ranting and raving at them at half-time,” Richards said.
“But we started to hang onto the ball and complete our sets and we started to roll over the top of them after that.
“And a couple of the class blokes in the side, such as Luke Thompson, were too big and strong for them out wide.
Group 20 scored inside the first five minutes to grab the early lead, but in the next 10 minutes made four errors that resulted in incomplete sets with Group 7 making them pay in scoring three tries to make it 18-6.
Down 18-10 at the break, Group 20 scored early in the second half and grabbed the lead for the first time in the game in the 50th minute.
The lead stretched to 10 points before Group 7 crossed the line to put the result back in the balance before Group 20 ran away with the game.
“The execution in the second half and the ability of the boys to keep working hard for each other was the best thing to come out of the game,” Richards said.
“Obviously we started really well and then had our poor patch, so really from about the 30th minute mark we were pretty good, so if we can eradicate that 15-minute poor period for the final it’ll be nice.”
Bidgee captain-coach Chris Bamford looked to have suffered an ankle injury, and while he was able to play out the rest of he game, Richards said he will be fighting the clock to be fit for the final.
Leeton’s Andrew Smith overcame a hamstring strain to take his place in the side on Saturday, but suffered a broken nose late in the clash.
Group 20 will face Group 11 in the CRL Tier Two Championship grand final in Canberra this weekend.