Dubbo CYMS put up a brave performance against Presidents Cup favourites North Sydney on Saturday, going down 32-16 in the opening round of the statewide competition.
The Fishies went into the game minus a few players due to work commitments after setting off in a mbus at 6.30am they arrived at North Sydney Oval No. 2 90 minutes before kick-off.
With injuries to key players Jack Kavanagh (knee) and full-back Tony Pellow (hamstring) during the match, the visitors were short on numbers.
"We knew that it was going to be scratchy, I think it's the same with all the clubs, with just three weeks to prepare," said Dubbo CYMS captain-coach Jarryn Powyer.
"The travelling was hard, but we all felt confident."
With prop Jack Quinn off the field with an ankle injury (he later returned to the field), Dubbo CYMS showed plenty of ticker to get cut the lead to 20-16 with just over 20 minutes remaining.
But with resources down to the bare minimum, North Sydney were able to finish the game with two converted tries.
"It was an awesome effort. We were in the grind for 60 minutes and there was a lot of opportunities where we thought we had them. But the last pass didn't make it," Powyer said.
"Full credit to the Bears. They just kept hanging in there, the same as what we were trying to do. Eventually they just got on top of us."
It was North Sydney that opened the scoring through five-eighth Coby Thomas before Dubbo CYMS levelled the scores at 6-all after 12 minutes of play. On the back of two penalties, the Fishies were able to spread the ball wide and centre Josh Toole was able to score in the corner.
Halfback Bayden Searle landed the touchline conversion.
A lost ball from CYMS eventually led to a try from James Tuitahi and when lock and captain Tom Freebairn planted the ball over the try line, the Bears were in control at 16-6 by half-time.
The boys from Dubbo where first to strike in the second stanza, with Pellow collecting a kick before showing exceptional pace to race 80 metres to score in the 45th minute. It was a costly try with the full-back succumbing to a hamstring injury.
Fishies winger Sam Simmons knocked on a kick from the Bears and from the ensuing scrum win, the home side crossed when Sione Hopoate raced over.
North Sydney should have gone further ahead but Tom Steadman failed to take a clean pass from Jake Preston with the line wide open.
Dubbo CYMS made them pay with Zac Ryan first to a kick from Searle to score in the 58th minute. Searle added the extras to make it 20-16.
An upset looked on the cards but North Sydney were able to put that to rest with two tries in three minutes from Steadman and Edenn Rogers-Smith.
Former NRL premiership winning back-rower Jayson Bukuya played strongly for Dubbo CYMS and was well supported by Claude Gordon, Toole and Pellow.
"Our boys in the middle, even though they were under size, kept producing all game. Pretty proud of all of them," said Powyer.
- North Sydney 32 (Coby Thomas, James Tuitahi, Tom Freebairn, Sione Hopoate, Tom Steadman, Edenn Rogers-Smith tries; Thomas 4 goals) def Dubbo CYMS 16 (Josh Toole, Tony Pellow, Zac Ryan tries; Bayden Searle 2 goals).