Gundagai edge Tumut in Group 9 thriller
In a match that could best be described as a 12-round bout between two heavyweight boxers, Gundagai have edged Tumut in a somewhat controversial points decision.
It wasn’t the prettiest of spectacles, with mistakes, penalties and refereeing calls playing their part in the contest.
Still; a dogged, enthralling and almost consuming affair saw Gundagai hold off a gallant Tumut 8-6 in their Group 9 preliminary final at Twickenham on Sunday.
Each side could only muster up a solitary try, with Dane O’Hehir crossing for the visitors in the first half, and Jordan Anderson scoring in the second half; but it was a James Luff penalty conversion in the 67th minute that essentially split the sides.
It was this penalty that caused conjecture and jeers of disapproval from a rambunctious Madigan Hill, with Scott Muir determining that Austin McDougall had slowed down the ruck intentionally; a trait that had seemingly become a common place in the 80-minute contest.
The decisions was made though, and the Gundagai playmaker kept his cool, and nailed the conversion from 30m out, giving his side the win.
Luff, who was one of the standouts for the Tigers, said holding on for a win over Tumut was important, after his side had previously given up leads to the reigning premiers.
“It was great to get a win. We have gotten to the lead a few times against Tumut and let it get away, but we didn’t let that happen today,” Luff said
In almost poetic coincidence, the talented hooker missed a conversion attempt in the final minutes of the game against Tumut at Anzac Park last weekend, a conversion that would have levelled the result.
Luff made no mistake this time and was understandably pleased to kick the penalty and help his side to a win over their rivals but was more pleased to see Tumut forced to play Young next week.
“I was able to make up for last week, so there was a little redemption there but importantly, it was a great win for us, especially up here and now they (Tumut) need to play down there and Young are just starting to hit their straps and they are going to be a danger side,” Luff said.
Gundagai will now have two weeks to deal with their injuries before a grand final clash against either Tumut or Young.
“We have a few wounded soldiers and we haven’t had a bye for a while, so it will be good to get a couple of weeks off and reassess before the grand final,” Luff said.
Tumut on the other hand will be forced to contend with the quick back up and will play the in-form Young at Gundagai on Sunday.
Co-captain/coach Dean Bristow said Tumut made things difficult for themselves and believed Gundagai should have won by more.
“We were our own worst enemies but honestly, I thought they should have beaten us by a lot more,” Bristow said.
“We gave them a lot of footy, especially in the first half and probably gassed ourselves and it told in the end, we were lacking a little bit of energy.”
Bristow went as far as saying it wasn’t the Tigers that beat them, more their own performance.
“We were working for each other and that kept us in the game. I really don’t think they beat us today; I really think we beat ourselves,” Bristow said.