Jake Grace says his Forbes Magpies have the belief to down Dubbo CYMS in the Group 11 grand final after crushing Wellington and Cowboys’ premiership dreams on Sunday.
The Magpies produced their best performance of the season in the preliminary final at Apex Oval, running in 10 tries in a scintillating display of attacking rugby league.
After saluting the mass of Magpies fans who made the trip to Dubbo to watch the win, Grace said there’s no reason why his side can’t beat the undefeated Fishies in next weekend’s grand final, just as they did in 2016.
“We’re not really worried about CYMS. We’re worried about what we can do because our best footy is good enough to beat them,” he said.
“We’ve done it once before but we’re no worried about that. This is a new year and the performances we’ve been putting in week in, week out for the last month, I think, will be good enough.
“We’ll just prepare the best we can and turn up, give it 100 percent and whatever happens from there, myself and the town will be proud of the Forbes Magpies.”
While the Magpies players and fans were overjoyed at full-time, it was a tough way for the Wellington Cowboys to end the season.
After showing plenty of improvement and finishing the regular season in second place, the Cowboys were beaten by just two points in last weekend’s major semi-final against CYMS.
There was tears from a number of players at full-time on Sunday after the Cowboys slipped from a position where they were leading 12-6 late in the first half.
“A lot of people said to us ‘I hope you didn’t play your grand final last week’ and I think we did,” coach Aidan Ryan said.
“I think the boys expected it to be easier against Forbes but all credit to them. Their forward pack stood up and ours didn’t. That was the big difference.”
Forbes struck first through centre Ethan Gaffney but tries to CJ Ralph and a fine Will Lousick individual effort saw the Cowboys take the lead in what had turned into an arm wrestle approaching half-time.
#Group11 grand finals for season 2018:— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) September 2, 2018
Sunday, September 9. Apex Oval, Dubbo. 10.30am start.
League tag: Parkes Spacecats v Dubbo Westside
Reserve Grade: Dubbo CYMS v Dubbo Macquarie
Under 18s: Forbes Magpies v Dubbo CYMS
First Grade: Dubbo CYMS v Forbes Magpies
But in one of the most crucial periods of the game, Magpies’ Jake Haddrill came off the bench to score a quickfire double and give his side a 24-12 lead at the break.
The start of the second half couldn’t have been much worse for the Cowboys and it proved to be a sign of things to come.
Richard Peckham allowed the ball to go dead from the kick-off, thinking it was going out on the full, before Nathan Ryan was stripped one-on-one by Richard Fiu in-goal, allowing the Forbes centre the simplest of tries.
That was one of six second half tries scored by a rampant Magpies side.
Charlie Staines also finished with a double while prop Ben Robinson was one of the most popular try-scorers with the Forbes faithful.
The scoreline blew out late on as a dejected Cowboys outfit allowed in three tries in the final seven minutes.
“Our best is good enough to beat them.”— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) September 2, 2018
The undefeated Dubbo CYMS holds no fear for Forbes captain Jake Grace. He’s got total faith in his side and the Magpies’ faithful army of fans heading into next weekend’s #Group11 grand final. pic.twitter.com/ZHF2vpSdrH
“It’s a really good result but the thing is, it all means nothing unless we turn up next week and give it our best crack,” Grace said after the win.
“I think our best crack is good enough to win the grand final and I don’t care what anyone else thinks. Our team believes that.”
The Cowboys also lost Lousick late on after he was knocked out in a tackle and while there was some concerns at first he was able to walk off and confirmed after the game he was alright, outside some aches and pains.
While extremely saddened to bow out so close to the decider, Ryan found it easy to find positives from the year.
“It’s pretty disappointing finish to the season but this is a big turnaround from last season,” the coach said.
“It’s been good having the boys back and good having ‘Justo’ (Toomey-White) back and leading our brothers out there. We’ve spoken about coaching together next year and that would be good for the club.
“We’ve got a lot of young fellas and they’ll be more senior players and experienced and will know what to expect.”
- FORBES MAGPIES 54 (Jake Haddrill 2, Charlie Staines 2, Ethan Gaffney, Richard Fiu, Ben Robinson, Mitch Burke, Hayden Bolam, Brad McMillan tries; Farren Lamb 7 goals) defeated WELLINGTON COWBOYS 24 (CJ Ralph 2, Will Lousick, Nathan Ryan tries; AJ Davis 4 goals)