CSU fullback Lochie Robinson exuded a quiet confidence after his double and a stunning defensive effort led the students to a 20-14 win over Dubbo Rhinos on Saturday.
The tough performance at Apex Oval, combined with Blayney’s loss to Narromine, means the Mitchell Men move in the New Holland Agriculture Cup top four and they are looming large after three successive victories.
While not getting too carried away, Robinson was pleased to see his side peaking at the right time.
“We needed these three wins to get us into the finals spots … there’s two more games and hopefully we can get a home semi-final,” he said.
“We can compete. On our day we can beat any team but we need to show up.”
While Robinson had nothing but praise for his side’s efforts – they did nothing but defend for the first 20 minutes of the second half after leading 12-7 at the break – Rhinos coach Guy Turner was again left incredibly dejected.
FT | Josh Kearins scores late but CSU gives it’s finals hopes a massive boost with a tough 20-14 win over Dubbo Rhinos. It wasn’t pretty but they got through a mountain of defence and took the chances when it mattered. The kind of win needed this time of the year. #CWRU18— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) July 14, 2018
Turner and others in the Rhinos side are at a loss to find a reason why they aren’t winning, and the men in black and gold worked themselves into prime attacking position time and time again on Saturday. But each time it came to nothing and after opening the scoring the side’s second try came in the final minute when the match was already decided.
The loss has the Rhinos firmly rooted to the bottom of the ladder and it officially ends the side’s finals hopes.
“It is frustrating,” Turner said.
“We had plenty of ball and we just made stupid errors and stupid mistakes and pop a pass when we should be driving over and building pressure and then we go for a miracle pass.
“It’s a simple game when you build pressure and build pressure and then you pass and you win. It’s incredibly frustrating and that’s our season gone.”
Turner stated for much of the game his side was the better of the two teams and few would argue that after the forward pack powered its way into the CSU defence from first whistle until last.
But the poor use of the ball, some fine CSU defence, and another kicking masterclass from visiting flyhalf Jack Keppel proved the difference.
After a physical yet scrappy opening, the Rhinos scored first through prop Brett Austin on 24 minutes.
CSU had two tries allowed in the first half but went into the sheds leading after winger Harry Hunt and Robinson both crossed, the latter off a lovely Keppel short ball.
The second half was all about the Rhinos and the forwards, led by the outstanding Ryan Sumners, threw everything at the CSU defence.
But rookie flyhalf Jayden Powell and his fellow outside backs failed to create any genuine chances and the boot of Keppel and Robinson’s blistering pace saw the students work their way out of trouble many times.
Eventually the visitors got some ball in attacking territory and Robinson sliced through the defence to grab his second and set up a 17-7 lead with less than 10 to go.
The Rhinos had both Jovilisi Tawake and Chris Sellings binned late on to add to the frustration and when Josh Kearines burrowed over in the final minute it was nothing but a consolation.
“It was a real grind for us today. We managed to stick in there and got the few points in the second half and that did it for us,” Robinson said, before praising Keppel’s kicking game.
“It got us the win in the end. It pinned them in the corners and the kick chase was great.”
Turner has challenged his side to show pride in the final two rounds against the undefeated Narromine Gorillas and Mudgee Wombats, but there was no getting away from the fact Saturday’s loss was a painful one.
“We had four or five chance sin that second half to take the game by the scruff of the neck and we didn’t and I’m not sure what it comes down to. It was there for us to win and we didn’t take it,” he said.
- BATHURST CSU 20 (Lochie Robinson 2, Josh Buttenshaw tries; Jack Keppel conversion, penalty) def DUBBO RHINOS 14 (Brett Austin, Josh Kearins tries; Chris Sellings, Viliame Turuva conversions)