While Dubbo CYMS may not have seen a huge amount of challenges on the field this year, coach Tim Ryan has had a tough time off it in regards to his team selection each week.
Ryan has had a huge amount of depth to call on this season, while a long list of injuries at one point means more than 35 players heave featured in first grade this year.
That has barely affected the Fishies’ momentum and on Sunday they capped off an unbeaten regular season in style, putting the Nyngan Tigers to the sword at Apex Oval.
CYMS ran out 72-18 winners, but Ryan said he faces some “heartbreaking” decisions when it comes to his team selection in finals.
The undefeated minor premiers were without Kavanagh brothers Lincoln and Wade, and John Grey on Sunday, while five different players featured in the halves during the 80 minutes.
“I think we’ve got a settled 19 players so I’ve got a couple of very heart-breaking decisions to make in a couple of weeks,” Ryan said, his side now earning a week off in first round of finals.
“It’s a bit of a shame but that’s the way it goes.”
The battle for the five-eighth jersey is one of the most hotly-contested with Bayden Searle a near-certainty to stay as halfback.
Brad Pickering again did a fine job in the number six jersey on Sunday while Alex Bonham, playing 80 minutes for the first time since an ankle injury suffered against Guildford in late June, scored a first half half-trick on the wing before spending some time in the halves late on.
Matt Burton also featured in the halves when Searle was taken off as a precaution in the second half.
18 | TRY! Bonham has a hat-trick inside 20 minutes!! Amazing.— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) August 12, 2018
Simple stuff as CYMS spread it to the right off a scrum on own 20m. Bonham gets into space, flies away down the wing and runs around to score under the posts. 18-4. Bonham’s almost as good as this hat-trick. #Group11pic.twitter.com/OMMcBKlXaK
“He (Burton) is a great player and can play anywhere from one to seven so there’s some hard decisions,” Ryan said, also impressed with Bonham’s showing.
As well as the halves, Billy Sing showed he’s getting back to his best on Sunday with a double while Hamish Astill again did a fine job in the number nine jersey worn by Wade Kavanagh in recent weeks.
Bonham lit up the opening stages of the game in the unfamiliar position of winger, bagging a hat-trick inside 18 minutes.
Jyie Chapman got in on the act four minutes later to make it 24-4 and the Fishies kept going, going into the sheds at half-time with a 36-4 lead.
Nyngan had a number of players backing up from reserve grade and while they never gave up, they were no match for the Fishies.
CYMS could have had more tries as well, with two pulled back in the first half for forward passes while a couple of chances also went begging in the second stanza.
While Bonham bagged a triple, Chapman, Corey Cox, Billy Sing and Burton all scored doubled.
Pickering, yet again, was outstanding for CYMS.
His goal-kicking continues to seemingly get better each week and didn’t miss one of his 12 conversions on Sunday despite a number of tries being scored in the corners.
Compounding things for Nyngan in the loss was the sending off of Benny Cokanasiga for a late shot on Astill late in the game.
The prop had been sin-binned in the first half after some push and shove with Alex Ronayne while the Tigers’ James Fisk for was also sent for 10 in the second half.
An upset win would have got the Tigers into the 2018 finals but captain-coach Jacob Neill confessed that was always going to be a hard ask given he was so short on troops.
The task was made even harder when Matt Sheather and Josh Merritt departed the game through injury in the first half.
“We’ve got through this year and the only way is up,” he said after the game, his side missing the top five a season after going down to CYMS in the grand final.
“We’ve got to try and get back to get where we deserve to be.
“We’ve put in a lot of work in the last few years and the committee is in a good spot. We need to get (home ground) Larkin Oval full on a Sunday afternoon again and get that feeling back.”
The positive feeling is definitely around CYMS at the moment but despite completing an unbeaten regular season and finishing with a remarkable differential of +506, Ryan wasn’t getting too carried away.
The title-winning coach was disappointed to see the Tigers grab a couple of relatively easy tries on Sunday while he said there’s much more to rugby league than winning minor premierships.
“You don’t look back in three years’ time and say ‘we won the premiership’, it’s a whole new ball game now,” he said.
“We’ve got a big job to do.”
The coach highlighted back-rower Ronayne as one of the Fishies’ best while he also singled out Shaquille Gordon for another powerful performance off the bench.
CYMS has next weekend off before hosting either Wellington and Parkes in the major semi-final.
- DUBBO CYMS 72 (Alex Bonham 3, Jyie Chapman 2, Corey Cox 2, Matt Burton 2, Billy Sing 2, Jesse Wighton tries, Brad Pickering 12/12 goals) defeated NYNGAN TIGERS 18 (Matt Sheather, Cameron Bourke, Hammond Erepan, Dean Jeffrey tries; Jackson Hedges conversion)