Their Group 11 seasons were already over, but that didn’t stop the Westside Rabbitohs and Narromine Jets giving it their all at Victoria Park No. 1 Oval on Sunday afternoon.
In fact, the two sides served up some scintillating football, including a try-of-the-year contender, clearly determined to enjoy their final hit-out of 2018.
“The boys played a bit of footy there, I was actually surprised by a few of the tries myself,” Rabbitohs captain-coach Claude Gordon said post-game.
AROUND THE GROUNDS
“I was impressed, but the boys, they’re all footballers these blokes, they all grew up around it, playing footy so I said to them today just have a bit of fun, just make sure we’re competing for everything and that’s what they did today.
“They played a bit of footy and nearly came up trumps, but credit to Narromine. They hung in their adn got the job done.”
Westside dominated the opening 20 minutes, getting away to a 14-0 lead before the Jets began to find some rhythm and captain-coach Wes Middleton got them on the board in the 32nd minute.
Four minutes later they were in again as Tony Clevin pulled a try out of thin air.
The five-eighth was tossed the ball on the last tackle and barely held onto it, before spinning away from a tackle and chipping the ball into the in-goal.
<p>HT in the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Group11?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Group11</a> between Westside and Narromine, the Rabbitohs lead 14-12<br><br>Check this try-of-the-year contender from Jets five-eighth Tony Clevin! Talk about creating something out of nothing hey <a href="https://twitter.com/Nj_Guthrie?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Nj_Guthrie</a>?<a href="https://twitter.com/dailyliberal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@dailyliberal</a> <a href="https://t.co/R1iaE41AZM">pic.twitter.com/R1iaE41AZM</a></p>— Jennifer Hoar (@JenniferHoar) <a href="https://twitter.com/JenniferHoar/status/1028511984692559872?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 12, 2018</a>
Westside’s Matt Naden, in his first game back from a bicep tear, gave chase but he was no match for the fleet-footed Clevin, who passed him to dive and ground the ball.
The hosts led 14-12 going into the sheds, but the Jets took the lead soon after the break courtesy of a Clevin penalty goal and Middleton’s second of the afternoon.
Darryl Cubby tied things up at 20-apiece in the 55th minute, finishing off a terrific team effort that saw the ball pass through numerous hands as the hosts surged 60 metres.
THE FINAL MAKE-UP
Middleton sent his father Willie over in the 64th minute for a touching moment, before Wes came off the field, confident his men could finish the job.
<p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Group11?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Group11</a> finals, week one:<br><br>Forbes' Spooner Oval to host elimination semi-finals on Saturday, 18/8.<br>First grade: Forbes v Macquarie<br>Reserves: Parkes v Forbes<br>18s: CYMS v Macquarie<br>League tag: Forbes v Macquarie<br><br>1/3</p>— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) <a href="https://twitter.com/Nj_Guthrie/status/1028546216135553024?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 12, 2018</a>
They did – despite a late surge courtesy of Blaize Fuller – with DJ Kennedy muscling over to seal the 32-24 win.
“The boys played really well. It took us a while to get into the game … wet conditions out in the middle,” the younger Middleton said post-game, lamenting the muddy patch mid-field, which could have almost led the tackle count.
“Obviously it was a bit slow and didn’t really play into our structure so we had to adapt and change a few things so we could get some momentum.
“It actually feels good as a coach to be able to come off and give the boys a run and have the faith in them that they’ll get the job done, so I couldn’t be happier to end the season on a win.”
NARROMINE JETS 32 (Wes Middleton 2, Tony Clevin, Willie Middleton, Donald Kennedy tries; Clevin penalty; Clevin 5 conversions) def WESTSIDE RABBITOHS 24 (Kane Ashby, Alex Frail, Brandon Carr, Darryl Cubby, Blaize Fuller; Cubby 2 conv)