A second win of the season might not have been enough to stop the Narromine Gorillas' first grade side from finishing with the New Holland Agriculture Cup's wooden spoon this year but it does point to better times ahead.
That was the view of Gorillas president and senior coach Tim Allworth, after his club finished its regular season in style last weekend.
The Gorillas' top grade side delivered its best performance of the season at home on Saturday, downing the Dubbo Rhinos 28-21, while the second grade outfit also scored a victory and the women's Westfund North Cup team triumphed over Wellington.
Having been a dominant force in the competition for so many years, Allworth said something of a step back this season was always expected given so many of the senior players who have formed the core group for so long had either retired or decided to drop back to second grade ahead of the 2021 season.
On paper, it might look like the season has been a struggle with only two wins in the top grade but the success of the second grade and women's side is a huge positive and the development of a number of younger players also has many within the club feeling excited about the future.
"We always knew this way going to happen and a lot of older players we've relied on were going to retire." Allworth said.
"It's been quite enjoyable having a bunch of younger blokes around who are willing to put their hand up and play rugby. It's a a position of luxury rather than scratching around trying to fill positions.
"The second grade side has been extremely strong and I feel that's always a sign of a good club and to have a women's side that's very competitive as well, I feel we're really fortunate."
It hasn't been all doom and gloom for the first grade side either, as it has fallen short against a number of the top teams somewhat regularly this season.
A narrow 30-20 loss in an outstanding clash with an in-form CSU side late last month was proof of that but Allworth said it was extremely satisfying to see the team put it together against the Rhinos.
"We've always been pretty close but not quite there and we played our best game at the end of the season," he said.
"It was quite pleasing to see a few things we've worked on over the season come together.
"It looks like a lot of those bloke will be around again next year so hopefully we're a little bit better again."
The willingness to throw the ball around and attack the Rhinos was most pleasing for Allworth as his side played without fear despite having won just the once prior to Saturday.
"To see the players still be keen to run around and put in a lot of effort shows we're a close bunch of mates and it's something we can build on for the next few years," he added.
The Gorillas' second grade and women's side will both play finals but their place on the ladder will be determined by other results this weekend.
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