THE Oberon Tigers' 2021 woes continued on a chilly Oberon afternoon last Saturday in what has been a frustrating season for the club.
The men's first grade side remains anchored in fourth place following their 40-24 capitulation against CSU while the women's league tag side surrendered their second place standing with a gutsy 24-6 loss.
Men's first grade
THE game started well enough for the Tigers with a magnificent Blake Fitzpatrick 40/20 touch finder to set up an early attacking raid.
Big Greg Behan, who has been having a stellar season, charged onto the ball to crash over and get the Tigers off to a perfect start after only two and a half minutes of play. With Jake Foley's conversion the Tigers had a stunned CSU looking at an early 6-0 deficit.
However, off the back of a spilled bomb metres out from the Oberon line, CSU struck back immediately to level up 6-6.
Despite monstrous hits from Behan and Nathan Booth, CSU managed to get the better of field position and, after a long cut-out pass, found their winger with just enough space to score inside the corner post.
With CSU leading 10-6 Oberon needed to reel in the game and regain ascendency before the visitors could capitalise on their momentum.
Behan was proving to be a handful for the CSU defenders with his power hit-ups and the Tigers were able to mount an attacking raid that ended with prolific try-scorer, Jacob Howes, surging up the sideline to score. Foley converted to wrest back the lead 12-10.
The game from this point on turned on a dime and, despite the attack going all the Tigers' way, CSU managed to diffuse each raid by scoring not one but two length-of-the-field intercept tries to take a 18-12 lead.
The harder the Tigers tried the more they coughed up the ball. CSU were able to feed off the mistakes and cross again before half time to post a 24-12 lead going into the sheds.
Having a big game, Howes was able to give the home side a glimmer of hope as he latched onto a cross-kick early in the second half to score out wide and get his team within a converted try at 24-18.
That seemed to spur the Tigers on and hard, direct running by the Tigers' pack gave hooker Caylib Marston the front-foot advantage to make one of his trademark surges out of dummy half to score and level up the scores after a Foley conversion.
But at 24-all the Tigers' run came to an end. Mistakes crept back into their game and the well-drilled CSU made them pay dearly with three more tries before full-time to run away with the game in what ended up as an embarrassing scoreline of 40-24.
There is no doubt that the Tigers have the talent and depth in their squad to be a premiership threat, even despite losing their imposing second-rower Ty Symonds late in the second half with a dislocated kneecap for the second time in the last two seasons.
The men's squad now gets a three-week break to freshen up before returning on June 26 against the Lithgow Beas at Lithgow.
WITH leading points-scorer Lourie Bailey ruled out for the season after fracturing her leg last week and missing a number of players including Ella Brien who has been in recent scintillating form, the Tigers went into the clash with ladder leaders CSU down on troops.
Despite the daunting task ahead of them the girls fought hard in the early exchanges and despite giving away a territorial advantage held on against an early onslaught from the champion CSU side.
Under relentless defensive pressure which had the Tigers pinned down, CSU managed to latch onto an intercept as the Tigers tried to bring the ball out from their quarter to open their account 4-0 after seven minutes of play.
Oberon's Jade Taggart was leading by example in both attack and defence and was rewarded with Oberon's first try after the brilliant ball playing of Renee Newstead set her up to score under the posts. Taggart converted her own try to give the Tigers a 6-4 lead.
The Tigers' Georgie Rich and Katie Sutherland were everywhere in defence and attack, both having a huge impact on the game and keeping Oberon's chances alive. But weight of possession and territorial advantage took its toll and after long periods camped in Oberon's half CSU were able to add two tries and a conversion to lead 14-6 at half time.
After an early try to CSU in the second half which extended their lead to 20-6, the Tigers' resolve was galvanised as the girls rallied and the game became a willing contest with both sides not prepared to concede a metre of turf to the other.
Masey Taggart and Sutherland were using their speed to trouble CSU and create half breaks.
Brooke Webb got the Tigers going with an attacking run that set up Newstead to chip behind a retreating CSU line. After regathering her own kick, Newstead fired the ball off to Rich who set sail for the corner post to score and have the crowd on their feet, only to be called back by the touch judge who deemed she had put a put a foot on the touch-line.
With less that a minute remaining CSU "iced the cake" with a late try to deservedly take the victory off a very brave Oberon outfit 24-6.
The long weekend sees a break from football but the league tag girls return to Oberon on Saturday, June 19 to host the Kandos Waratahs.
KEEP July 3 free in your calendar because that will be the Tigers' big event of the year when they hold their annual Can Assist Charity round.
This year will see the Tigers auction off specially designed Can Assist jerseys proudly honouring the names of our folk who have either survived or have left us after a fight with cancer.
The juniors will also be playing and auctioning off specially commissioned jerseys plus a raft of hampers. It's an event not to be missed.