TWO pieces of magic from CSU five-eighth Billy Dickinson saw the Mungoes survive elimination in a thrilling 30-26 golden-point New Era Cup minor semi-final against Kandos on Saturday.
After scores were locked at 20-all after regulation time, CSU looked like it was going to exit the title chase when Kandos second rower Jake Humphreys put his side ahead in extra-time at Diggings Oval.
But on the siren Dickinson pumped the ball 60 metres down field and winger Joe Heien won the chase to it and scored under the posts.
The conversion locked things up once more and sent the game into a sudden-death golden-point situation. Some 15 minutes elapsed before Dickinson split Kandos up the middle of the ruck and go on to score the match winner.
“It was 20-all at full-time then 26-all after extra-time, we scored on the hooter. Then we scored again in golden point after about 10-15 minutes,” Mungoes coach Riley Scelly said.
“It was about a two hour and 10 minutes game.”
The Mungoes had played Kandos twice during the regular season and both of those contests had been close – CSU winning 20-18 on its home turf while the Waratahs won 28-26 when hosting the rematch.
It pointed to yet another tight battle in the elimination semi-final, but early on the hosts put themselves under pressure as handling errors and silly penalties – CSU pinged for back chat and lying on tackled players – gifted Kandos possession.
Scott Wilkinson punished the first of those mistakes on the five minute mark when he muscled his way over to score despite a two-man tackle.
On the 11 minute-mark, after CSU conceded back-to-back penalties, Kandos struck again. This time it was Ethan Parsons who got the four-pointer as he charged through the Mungoes’ defence.
It took until the final five minutes of the half for the Mungoes to finally put things together as firstly Jacob Watkin scored following a strong charge from lock James Woolmington then, with 28 seconds left, Izaac Scott charged over.
That locked it up at 8-all.
The second half saw the sides trade tries, with Kandos scoring only to have the Mungoes come up with a reply to have things level at 14-all then 20-all at full-time.
The Waratahs again scored first in extra-time, but Dickinson’s late heroics got CSU over the line.
Scelly was delighted his men were able to come away with the win, but knows they can not afford to put themselves under the same sort of pressure in the preliminary final. They will meet either Blackheath or Orange Barbarians in a fortnight.
“We did cut out those mistakes in the second half a lot more than the first, but we still had a lot of silly errors. I think the penalties were probably the main thing which put us under pressure,” the coach said.
“The whole game we always seemed to just keep pushing. We started off poor and ended up finishing up on top really, the same in extra-time, we started off poor but finished on top.
“It seems to be our season at the moment, we always seem to start poor then have to work to finish on top. It sucks because we have to put so much more effort in during the second half.”