CYMS fall behind in race for third spot after Oberon grind out win

ORANGE CYMS’ push for a coveted top-three spot hit a potentially-terminal roadblock on Sunday afternoon when they suffered an 18-8 defeat to Oberon in a grand final rematch at Wade Park. 

The football was as dour and cold as the weather, with CYMS’ lime green tops – worn to raise awareness for headspace – more brown than lime when time came to auction them off after the game.

The win leaves the Tigers in a good position to strike for third spot on the ladder, a single point behind Bathurst Panthers, with CYMS a further two points adrift and facing a daunting run to the finals.

Tigers scored twice in the opening 15 minutes, with Abel Lefaoseu breaking through after skipper Luke Branighan kicked the ball wide, and then Branighan leapt on a loose ball from a tackle behind CYMS’ defensive line for a try of his own. 

From 12-0 down in trying conditions, CYMS never looked like clawing the deficit back, even as the Tigers tired in the second half and CYMS were able to make numerous line breaks.

However, Branighan said that was the plan – to “grind” out a win – with his kicking a crucial factor helping to counterbalance the absence of some key players.

“We had Ben McAlpine out and Touhy out as well so we had a fair bit of our attacking spark gone and I challenged out forwards to grind it out and kick well,” he said. 

McApline has a groin complaint which he’s been nursing for a few weeks, while Tui Oloapu is suspended. 

Branighan was impressed with the entire forward pack, saying they all played a crucial role for the side.  

It’s a must-win game for us against Lithgow next week and you want to finish in that top three.

CYMS coach Mick Sullivan

“Our two centres, Abel [Lefaoseu] and Jackson Brien are just big, strong, fast, skillful players and are like extra forwards, especially today,” he said.

Next week the Tigers travel to Mudgee to face the Dragons, a must-win clash for the Oberon outfit if they are to push for a top-three berth.

“They’re [Mudgee] a quality side and we’re playing them in Mudgee and we can’t slip up [or] we’re going to fall into fourth or fifth spot and it’s tough to win from there.

“We have the bye in the last round, we need to scrape as many points as we can before the last round.”

Despite Sunday’s result, player-coach Mick Sullivan was still proud of his injury-ravaged side, which was forced to make four changes this week. 

“We kept them out for seven or eight sets and they scored from the kick and if they didn’t do that it could have been a different result but everyone put their hand up, we really lacked direction at time but that’s to be expected with the number of changes,” Sullivan said.

“We’re not losing by much and we won that second half 8-0 and people say that’s not much of a consolation but I think it was.

“We probably just gave them one too many in that first half.”

The run home becomes more difficult now for CYMS, who face a huge challenge to have a hope of getting two bites at the finals cherry final, a luxury afforded only to top-three sides.

The defending premiers will play Workies in Lithgow next Sunday.

“It’s a must-win game for us against Lithgow next week and you want to finish in that top three, and we put ourselves in danger of missing that,” Sullivan said.