It will have to be the long road for Tigers after loss to CSU

THE Oberon men's minor premiership team hosted defending premiers, CSU, in a game to decide who will go straight through and host the grand final on September 26.

When both teams met on August 15, the Tigers were victorious 26-8.

This time, however, the visitors were hell-bent on revenge, and succeeded in a 14-10 thriller over the Tigers, who will now have to take the long road to the grand final.

The ladies' league tag side also featured on the day in a sudden death contest against Orange Barbarians.

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Like the men's side, they had enjoyed an earlier resounding victory over the Barbarians in round two to the tune of 42-10.

Clearly, the Barbarians had improved since the July encounter, and proved too strong for the Tigers in a desperately close contest, eventually taking it out 14-6 with a try on the bell.

MEN'S

BOTH teams started strongly, completing their sets and putting pressure on the tryline defence.

It was clear, though, that CSU had learnt their lesson from the previous loss to the Tigers, and they came out with an up-tempo game plan based on aggressive defence and fast attack.

The champion Tigers side, though, were able to match their younger counterparts and started to find their rhythm after the initial exchanges.

Charlie Bailey was the first to have the massive home crowd on their feet when he appeared to score, but the referee called him back.

CSU had to compress their defence to hold the Tigers out and the experienced Blake Fitzpatrick, playing five-eight, responded with a perfectly placed cross-kick to find Jacob Howes, who latched onto the ball and opened the Tigers' account.

Josh Rivett converted from the sideline and the Tiges were up 6-0.

With Dave Sellers charging hard and Caylib Marsten probing from dummy half, the Tigers were soon in again when Sellers, roaming out wide, took on the defence and slipped a clever pass away to a charging Dallas Booth for the skipper to cross out wide.

Rivett was unable to convert, but the Tigers went to the first drinks break with a solid 10-0 lead.

The second quarter started with a re-energised CSU all but throwing the kitchen sink at the Tigers' defence.

Bailey saved a certain try with a desperate last-ditch tackle. Fitzpatrick then tried to snuff out the CSU charge with an almighty hit but, despite the rugged home team defence, the students kept coming and eventually were rewarded with a four-pointer to get themselves on the scoreboard 10-4.

The young CSU side were pumped up and it was taking its toll on the tiring Tigers.

Coach Booth tried to rotate his bench in an effort to get fresh legs on the field, but CSU still managed to find an overlap to score just before half-time to edge closer at 10-8.

The Tigers went to the sheds to regroup, but CSU stayed on the field as though they didn't want their momentum to end.

At the resumption of play, it was obvious both teams were going to lift the intensity and send a clear message to each other that every inch gained had to be earned.

With Sam Gascoigne, Howes and Fitzpatrick throwing themselves into the fray and the big crowd urging the Tigers on, everyone knew we had a serious contest on our hands.

The third quarter ended with as much noise coming from the players urging each other on as there was from the vocal Oberon faithful.

However, it was CSU who had the Tigers reeling when play resumed with a try in the first minute to take the lead for the first time at 14-10.

With 16 minutes remaining and the young, fit CSU side playing with a full head of steam, the mountain the Tigers needed to climb was getting steeper.

The harder the Tigers tried, the more errors crept into their game.

CSU earned the right to host the grand final with a final scoreline of 14-10 and the Tigers were left to take the long route to the big one when they host Warriors at Oberon on Saturday in an elimination final. The game will start around 2.30pm and will be a blockbuster.

LEAGUE TAG

THE end of a hugely successful season came to Shannon Foley's side as they went down in a nail-biting affair against Barbarians 14-6, with the final scoreline no indication of the closeness of the contest.

Barbarians were the first to strike after only three minutes as the Tigers looked a bit shell-shocked.

The Barbarians defended their early 6-0 lead vigorously, suffocating any attempt by the Tigers' attack to get a roll on. At the end of the first quarter, after a dominant Barbarians passage of play, Oberon had a lot of work to do to get back into the match.

But, as they have done on many occasions, the girls knuckled down to the task and soon had the run of play firmly on their side.

With the visitors desperately defending their line, Lourie Bailey spotted an opportunity and slipped through to score and convert her own try to lock up the game 6-all.

Oberon were now playing the style of footy that they wanted, letting the ball do the work through the hands.

Bailey was at it again as she broke through from the halfway. At the last line of defence, she deftly chipped ahead to regather for herself before sending a miracle pass infield to a support runner with the tryline wide open.

Unfortunately, the pass didn't stick in what would have been the try of the season. Let off the hook, the Barbarians hung on to the drinks break.

The last quarter resumed on a knife's edge. Firstly, it was Oberon applying the pressure as Barbarians had to repel wave after wave of attack.

When the visitors finally managed to work back downfield, they capitalised with a try out wide resulting from an overlap to take the lead 10-6.

The clock showed five minutes remaining and the Tigers had little petrol in the tank, but they were determined to use it all up.

Ella Brien had the crowd roaring when she found a gap, and for a split second it looked like she would score and lock the game up, but a desperate lunge from the Barbarians fullback stopped her.

With 30 seconds remaining, and in a cruel twist of the dagger, Barbarians managed to snuff out any chance Oberon had with a long range try as the final siren sounded.

This Saturday Oberon host a league tag final between CSU and Barbarians at 1.30pm, then our men's side take on the Warriors straight afterwards for the right to contest the grand final against CSU on September 26. Supporters are encouraged to come along and support the Tigers.