A second-half double to Mudgee flier Connor Pascoe has lifted Mudgee over a gallant Dubbo Rhinos and booked the Wombats a spot in next week’s New Holland Agriculture Cup second grade preliminary final at Parkes.
Mudgee trailed the Dubbo club 10-5 at the break but a couple of tremendous individual efforts from Pascoe helped the Batties overcome that deficit, winning the minor semi-final 18-10 at Jubilee Oval on Sunday.
Pascoe scored off a lovely cross-field bomb off the boot of five-eighth Brian O’Reilly before scooping up a deft grubber kick from skipper Matt Blackman to cross for a couple of telling five-pointers.
“Connor played brilliantly, read exactly what Sticksy was doing. The backs ran hard all day and made us look good,” Mudgee’s Jamie Bayliss said.
“We seemed really nervous in that first half, like we still hadn’t gotten rid of any of those pre-game jitters.
“We spoke about it at half-time and in the second half we came out and started better, gelled and it worked.”
Mudgee will now play Narromine in next week’s prelim final after Gorillas lost a major semi-final thriller 15-13 against Blayney at Cale Oval on Saturday.
Rhinos coach Darren Taylor was content with the effort from the Dubbo boys.
“This a team that sat on the bottom of the ladder for most of the year and we’re playing semi-final football, really proud of them,” he said.
“Well done to Mudgee, they had to stick it to us to get through.”
Taylor said his side prepared well for the sudden-death clash, training three times this week. That effort showed in the first period when the visiting Rhinos hit back after trailing early to lead 10-5 at the break.
But the second stanza let Rhinos down – ill-discilpine and dropped ball killing off their 2018 season.
“Nothing is guaranteed in semi-final football,” Taylor added.