Pre-season prediction: Second
Position: Fifth (9 wins, 7 losses, +203 points differential)
In short: The Hurricanes charged into the season on the back of a strong showing at the West Wyalong Knockout but clearly ran out of steam at the tail end of the year, losing four of their last five games –including an elimination final loss to Yenda. Bidgee would have wanted more than that from 2013.
What went right: Captain-coach Chris Bamford boasted about Bidgee’s attacking prowess at the start of the year – and he was proven to be spot on the money. The Hurricanes posted the third-best points for tally in the competition, even better than grand final winners TLU. On fire, this Bidgee side was capable of cutting anyone to ribbons.
What went wrong: Once again, Bamford called it. As he predicted, defence was the big issue this season. The Hurricanes had the worst defensive record of any Group 20 finals side and caved in the key games late in the season, when a top three position was still on offer. Bamford’s controversial suspension for blood smearing midway through the season can’t have helped the side’s continuity or momentum, either.
Best win: Aside from the monstrous wins over the struggling Griffith sides, Bidgee were at their best in round 6, coming away from a daunting visit to twice-reigning premiers West Wyalong with a 50-22 win that had the entire club dreaming of September success.
Worst loss: August was a tough month for the Hurricanes, and it all started with the shock 22-19 loss to Darlington Point-Coleambally that arguably began the side’s downward spiral. A last-minute try to Roosters forward Luke Gras off a penalty tap dashed all hopes of climbing any higher than fifth position.
Best player: Very difficult to go past imposing prop Chris Bamford, who earned Country Bulls selection and a spot in the Group 20 team of the year. His reputation as one of the region’s best forwards is well and truly in tact.
Leading tryscorer: Daniel Hyde played every match for the Hurricanes and nearly stole the competition’s leading tryscoring mantle from Kolo Lomu, finishing with 23 tries – just one short of the Leeton flyer.
Moving forward: The talk is Bamford will remain at the club, which alone ensures they will remain finals contenders in 2014. If most of his stars stick around as well and the creases from this season are ironed out, there is a real opportunity the ’Canes can go one better next year.
Grade: C+. At the start of the year, Bamford said there were no excuses if his side didn’t win the grand final – let alone make it. In the end they fell a fair way short. Still, an excellent side that must do better in 2014.