A PAIR of penalties is all that has separated CSU's second grade side from joining their firsts team on New Holland Agriculture Cup grand final day.
CSU matched it with a physical Mudgee Wombats outfit for much of Saturday's preliminary final at University Oval before the boot of Tom Purcell took the visitors to an 18-12 victory.
"It came down to critical mistakes at critical times. We were always in this game and there was nothing between the two sides - the sort of game you would expect from a preliminary final," CSU coach Peter Plunkett said.
"They just kept edging away from us towards the end but our guys always played well."
Wombats took a 12-7 lead into the break but the hosts brought the crowd to life with a try shortly after the resumption of play.
Mudgee capitalised on several errors to put themselves in position to hit home two penalties, and defended well to keep CSU away from their line.
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Chris Shephard and Jordan Boney were the try scorers for CSU.
CSU had rallied through the middle of the season to thrust themselves into finals contention and Plunkett said CSU should hold their heads high after a testing year of rugby.
"Most of the kids in our team would normally be playing colts so for them to play senior players in second grade is huge," he said.
"There was a lot of development for those younger players, and the support from the older players coming back to the club was huge for them. That's the reason we got as far as we did."