TALK about a stark contrast - at full-time in Saturday night's New Holland Cup match CSU coach Dave Conyers was full of pride thanks to an 18-10 upset, while Dubbo Rhinos coach Doug Sandry slammed his team for a "totally unacceptable" display.
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CSU went into the match at University Oval as the clear underdog. Not only had the students twice lost to the Rhinos already in 2022, but the Dubbo side sat on top of the ladder.
But after 80 minutes, six yellow cards and a host of penalties, CSU emerged victorious.
Though the yellow cards were split three-three, the Rhinos had plenty more discipline issues so Sandry did not hold back when critiquing his side.
"They were terrible. There was no discipline, players just not performing their role, missed tackles, ill discipline. Realistically, unacceptable, totally unacceptable," he said.
"They showed up, they were ready, we trained well on Thursday night and everything looked pretty good when we started here today, but they just got frustrated.
"They've got to learn to grow, they've got to learn to suck it up. Instead of trying to throw their weight around, they've just to to pull their head in and play rugby.
"They were fighting amongst themselves and that's just totally unacceptable. So we'll talk about that at training."
It was a much happier vibe with CSU as the students made it back-to-back wins for the first time in 2022, the success against the Rhinos adding to a 21-15 triumph over Narromine the previous round.
It also cements CSU a spot in the semi-finals.
"It's just unbelievable after all the hard work we've done that we finally had a few things go our way," Conyers said
"The warm up was really good, the energy was there, and I thought to myself 'We're going to go alright today'. It was good stuff.
"It's nice to be safe and knock off the top team too. They beat us up there 40-0 in the first game and only beat us by nine that second game so we weren't far off, but just having a couple of blokes back playing in their own position, it makes a big difference."
CSU laid the platform for the upset in the first half as despite spending 20 minutes a man short due to two yellow cards, it built a 13-3 lead.
Scrumhalf Jordy O'Shea opened scoring in the sixth minute with a penalty goal and after a nice counter-ruck to poach Rhinos ball in the 11th minute, flyhalf Lachie Conyers sliced straight through.
O'Shea, who was one of the players yellow carded for hands in the ruck, made amends as he kicked a second penalty goal five out from half-time.
Rhinos' only points of the half came from a Kaiden Hill penalty.
The flyhalf had earlier spent 10 minutes in the sinbin for a late lifting tackle, but he did have a bright moment just before half-time when kicking the ball off the ground and producing a 50-22.
However, from the ensuing attacking play the ball went into touch.
Two minutes into the second half CSU had its second try. Piggybacked inside the 22 by a penalty, a line-out win and four phases later second rower Lachie Buckton muscled his way over.
That made it 18-3, but seven minutes later the Rhinos narrowed the gap as hooker Matt Graham scored off the back of an attacking line-out.
Hill converted to make it 18-10, but the Rhinos didn't get any closer than that as frustrations grew and tempers threatened to boil over more than once.
In the final 20 minutes there were three yellow cards - two of them shown to Rhinos - a missed CSU penalty goal, and Dubbo opting to take a tap instead of lining up a shot which could've got them a bonus point.
"It's inspiring to beat a team like that, we had to grit it out. We kicked well and we chased well," Conyers said.
"They kept their cool really well that was the difference. A couple of weeks ago we would've started back chatting and done something stupid, but their discipline was good today."
CSU backs coach Mark Campbell praised the efforts of Matt Allen at inside centre plus the tactical kicking which produce three 50-22s.
"I just thought they played a really strong game, they stuck to their structures and put pressure on the other side with their kick chase," he said.
"Moving forward for the next couple of games, we've got Parkes in a couple of weeks, it's about building momentum so we're ready for the semis and can make a difference when we do get there."
Having lost top spot on the ladder with the defeat - Mudgee leapfrogging the Rhinos - Sandry said his side has plenty to contemplate.
But he offered praise to CSU as well.
"It was a disappointing performance, but CSU, they showed up ready to play, they were the better side for 80 minutes," he said.
"They needed to win to make the semis and that was an opportunity for us to tie up first place and we blew it.
"We were never in the match to be honest, even at 10-3, that's the closest we got, they were well and truly the better side."
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