The Wellington Cowboys fell short at the final hurdle on Sunday as they went down 18-10 to Dubbo CYMS in a hugely entertaining reserve grade grand final at Caltex Park.
There was clear disappointment in the Wellington camp but captain Craig Roworth remained incredibly proud of his side’s run to the decider.
The Cowboys had stormed into fifth spot late in the regular season and then won sudden death each week of the finals to set up a grand final against CYMS, only to fall short in a grand stand finish.
That meant retiring club stalwarts Nathan Smith and Paul Black didn’t go out on a high but Rowarth said there were still plenty of positives.
“I’ve played for a few clubs now. Macquarie, CYMS and Wellington now but they way they come together here and pull together and keeping coming at Wellington … it’s a real brotherhood and they bring that week in, week out,” he said.
“There’s a lot of pride but we were our worst enemy today. We were never going to beat any side giving away so many penalties and making mistakes.”
The match was far from a stereotypical reserve grade contest, with fitness proving no issue for either side while CYMS’ defence held firm despite raid after raid from the Cowboys in either half.
Despite Wellington finishing fifth on the ladder and CYMS being minor premiers there was little to separate the two sides.
CYMS scored early in the second stanza through standout Hamish Astill to make it 10-0 but Wellington roared back to make it 12-10 with two minutes to go.
But a Joeby Vetakula try right on full time made sure of the result.
“That was massive. I can’t describe it,” CYMS captain Hewett Haycock said.
“We always knew they had a lot of points in them and were dangerous. They’ve got a lot of good footy players in the side and we knew it was always going to be a contest.”
Haycock was quick to dedicate his side’s triumph to Ryan Medley, who has been in Royal North Shore Hospital since June after suffering a serious spinal injury playing football for CYMS against Wellington.
“We dedicated this one to ‘Meds’ and we pulled together and did it for him,” Haycock said.
The win made it back-to-back reserve grade titles for CYMS and Haycock had nothing but praise for the work ethic instilled by coach Joel Rapley, who missed the match due being on his honeymoon.
“All year and last year too. It was our defence then,” Haycock said.
“We weren’t a big side then and we’re not now.”
It took just seven minutes for CYMS to score in the match, a Tyrone Hall bomb was allowed to bounce and Zac London then put Braden Wynne over.
That’s how it stayed until the break before Astill, threatening all match, darted out of dummy half from 10m out and went straight over.
Wellington back-rowers Smith and Everson set up a grand stand finish when they each muscled over, but a CYMS kick-off from the restart was allowed to go out.
That resulted in Vetakula scoring and the Fijian slotted the goal to seal the victory.
DUBBO CYMS 18 (Braden Wynne, Hamish Astill, Joeby Vetakula tries; Nick Karydis 2, Vetakula goals) defeated WELLINGTON COWBOYS 10 (Nathan Smith, Kenny Everson tries; Lewis Stanley goal)