Dubbo Macquarie’s grip on a semi-finals spot has slipped just a bit after a tough 24-10 loss to Forbes Magpies on Sunday.
Macquarie coach Steve McLellan felt his team were denied the chance to compete with the Magpies after 50-50 calls went against them.
McLellan felt an obvious knock-on was missed when Forbes picked up a stray ball 10 metres out from their own line and raced away to score early in the second half, breaking a 4-all deadlock and turning the match on its head.
It gave all the momentum to Forbes, who went on to score another try soon after and give themselves a match-winning buffer.
“At half-time it was 4-all, we put ourselves in a position to win the game but were denied the opportunity,” the coach said.
“We knew we had to play well but not one 50-50 call went our way. At the turning point of the game, everyone stops after a knock-on and he lets them run 90 metres.
“Psychologically that knocked us around. We were a try behind and that killed us.”
Forbes captain-coach Jake Grace was pleased with his team’s effort to overcome adversity. They had an early setback when halfback Farren Lamb was knocked out in a tackle and was taken to the sideline, and soon after transported to hospital.
They scored first through Jared Tyack, but Macquarie launched an attack of their own and looked to have scored but it was ruled Forbes had grounded the ball.
Soon after Dalton Medcalf levelled the scores, latching onto a pass from Luke Gale and going over wide on the left.
Macquarie then kicked a 40-20 with 20 seconds left in the half and Medcalf went close to scoroing a second, but couldn’t grab the kick from Jai Merritt.
The Magpies started the second half strongly, and turned it into points when Tyack grabbed try number two. Jessie Wighton extended the lead soon after and Jarrod Nicholson added the extras for both.
A try to Kurt Fuller got the Raiders back in the game but a Nicholson penalty goal and second try for Jessie Wighton put the game out of their reach.
Grace said Lamb was heavily concussed but didn’t have any spine or neck injuries. He also said his own injury was in his hip, but he was confident he would be right soon.
Forbes have a tough run into the finals, with most of their games against teams in the top five.
“The games we've lost have been because of us. We have a big obstacle ahead of us. We have all the teams we have lost to on the run home but it comes down to us,” he said.
“I'm confident in our players and now it's time to do the job.”
McLellan said his team would know focus on the job of securing that top five finish.
“We know the reality is we have to win a few more games to lock up that semi-finals spot,” he said.
“We have CYMS, Westside, Wellington and Narromine so if we're going to make the semis we have to win the majority of those.”