THE rich history of premierships for Oberon continued last Saturday as the Dallas Booth-led Tigers defeated CSU Mungoes 23-10 in a dominant performance to take out the 2020 Wallerawang Landscape Cup.
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It's been 17 years since the Tigers have taken a title, and it was fitting that team manager Johnny McGrath and strapper Tony "Chillie" Curry were part of that squad in 2003.
Although the Tigers were minor premiers, they came into the game having been beaten 14-10 in their last encounter with CSU. Coach Booth had said all along that the squad would learn from that loss, and they did.
The Tigers put pressure on CSU from the outset and, within two minutes, dynamic hooker Caylib Marston had made one of his trademark darts from dummy-half to post the first try of the match. Josh Rivett, the leading point scorer in the competition, slotted the conversion and the Tigers led 6-0 early.
There's no doubting CSU's fighting character, having been unchallenged as premiers in the last few years. With eight minutes remaining in the first quarter, they swooped on a Tigers mistake to level up at 6-all.
The grandstand was packed with Oberon supporters urging their team on. It seemed to have an effect as Jacob Howe crashed through the defence to set up an attacking raid.
The next ruck saw Blake Fitzpatrick, playing with deadly determination, take on the defence and wrong foot the CSU fullback to score, advancing the Tigers' lead to 12-6.
The second quarter started with the Tigers still on fire. Zane Rowlandson was denied a try shortly after the resumption of play due to a double movement call from the referee.
With the Tigers enjoying the run of play, Dave Sellers called a short side play and sent Howes over untouched in the corner. Rivett's conversion was unsuccessful, but the Tigers had now pushed out to a 16-6 lead.
With three minutes left in the first half, Oberon's captain/coach Dallas Booth was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes after a professional foul, the first time in his long career.
The third quarter was always going to be critical for the Tigers as they defended with only 12 men. CSU sensed that this was the opening they were looking for and increased the tempo.
With an avalanche of penalties in the students' favour giving them a mountain of possession, the Mungoes were now playing with confidence.
In a show of grit and determination, the Tigers repelled wave after wave of attacking raids to deny CSU any points. Booth returned to the field and with a full complement, the Tigers were looking to extend their lead and shut the gate on a CSU comeback.
With the Mungoes rushing up in defence, Marston got inside the defensive line to find clear space 50 metres out from the tryline. In a game of cat and mouse, Marston eluded CSU's attempts to run him down, scoring under the posts for an easy Rivett conversion.
Going into the final quarter behind 22-6, CSU needed to score quickly in order to stay in touch.
The Tigers weren't going to have a bar of that and fought their way deep into the opposition territory. On the back of a string of penalties, the pendulum shifted back to the Mungoes.
This time they managed to cross for a try to cut the lead back to 22-10 and give themselves some sort of a chance in the match with 10 minutes remaining.
Strong defence led by Dave Sellers, Daniel Rodgers and Charlie Bailey nullified CSU's late surge and Rivett sealed the result shortly after with a field goal to post the final scoreline of 23-10.
Booth praised the efforts of his team, singling out Marston, who he said created the platform for the team's attack throughout the game. Fitzpatrick, Sellers and Rodgers all put in huge performances.
At the presentation ceremony, Rivett was named man of the match and Jacob Howes was awarded the trophy for the competition's highest try-scorer of the season.
This year the Tigers' season was not only about the performances on the field, but equally about the off-field achievements.
The club were proud to be able to host both the mental health awareness and suicide prevention round, and the Can Assist charity round which raised a record amount in excess of $21,300.
The club would like to sincerely thank all the sponsors and loyal supporters in helping them break a 17-year premiership drought. Bring on 2021.
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