Wallerawang Warriors will host their second Group 10 New Era Midwest Cup grand final in three years where they will play the winner of this weekend’s preliminary final between CSU and Orange Barbarians.
In Saturday’s major semi-final at Wallerawang Sportsground the Warriors defeated CSU 19-14 to progress to the grand final and claim the big advantage of playing the decider on their home turf.
Wallerawang took early points in the major semi-final after Ben Beecroft’s try in the fourth minute, and extended their lead to 8-0 following an 80-metre intercept by Nick Bender, which lead to centre Ryan Gurney’s try.
An eight-point buffer was not a big enough lead to a CSU side that a week earlier put away an enthusiastic Villages United by a big score.
Riley Scully began the CSU clawback, his try converted 20 minutes into the game by Brad Rushby for an 8-6 score, then a successful Rushby penalty goal allowed the students to draw level 8-all 10 minutes before halftime.
Soon after the restart Billy Dickinson’s converted try took CSU to a six-point lead, but within two minutes the Warriors’ Josh Howarth’s self-converted try evened the score up again 14-all.
In the dying stages, playing with the wind behind them, a field goal and two penalty goals gave Wallerawang a five-point victory.
The elimination semi-final saw last year’s premiers Villages United knocked out by Orange Barbarians 30-16.
Barbarians will now contest their first New Era Midwest Cup final since their entry to the competition eight years ago.
Wallerawang’s opponent will arrive at the grand final with the momentum of having played every finals game, but also with the risk of injury along the way.
CSU will host this weekend’s elimination final at Diggings Oval against the Barbarians.
There was better news for the students in the league tag major semi-final as CSU Yellow thumped Wallerawang 38-0 – after racing out to a 22-0 half-time lead – to be the first side through to the grand final.
CSU Blue made it two from two for the club with their 18-0 minor semi-final win over Kandos Tiara-tahs.