The opening 15 minutes of the major semi-final clash between the Gulgong Terriers and the Cobar Roosters at Gulgong's Billy Dunn Oval on Saturday were pivotal to the outcome of what was a gripping encounter between the two sides.
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In those 15 minutes, the Terriers piled on 18 unanswered points and looked set to coast away to a very big win.
But that was not to be the case.
The Roosters climbed off the canvas to get back to have the scoreboard locked up at 24-all midway through the second half and looking as if they might be the first team to lower Gulgong's colours this year.
With hosting rights for the 2023 grand final on the line, the final quarter of the match was an intense affair with the Terriers edging ahead 30 to 24 with 15 minutes remaining and then the Roosters responding seven minutes later with a try out wide to have the scoreboard reading 30 to 28.
Gulgong supporters breathed a little easier when an unconverted try put them ahead 34 to 28 with four minutes on the clock, but the tension was palpable until the final siren sounded, and the Terriers had survived one very strong challenge from the Roosters.
In the other grades the Coonabarabran Unicorns edged out their archrivals, the Baradine Magpies, 10 to 6 in reserve grade and the Dunedoo Swannettes retained their undefeated status when they registered a big 48 to 12 victory over the Narromine Jets.
Whilst the first-grade major semi-final game at Gulgong was an absorbing affair, it would be fair to say that the minor semi-final played at Dunedoo on Sunday was not quite on the same scale with the Narromine Jets coming away with a very comprehensive win over the Swans.
Full credit to a Swans outfit that had been beset by many injury woes in recent times for scoring the first and last points in the match, but they were totally dominated by the Jets in the minutes that intervened those points being scored.
If being down 30 points to 4 at half time was not bad enough, it soon became quite "ugly duckish" for the Swans when they had a player sent off 4 minutes into the second half.
He had probably only just turned the hot water tap on in the dressing shed when he was joined by a team mate a few minutes later, who was similarly dismissed for the rest of the game, as was a Jets player who had all the hot water to himself in the away dressing shed.
In what was a somewhat long and painful finish to the season for the Swans, it was eleven players on twelve for the remaining 29 minutes as the game ground its way to a 60 points to 10 conclusion.
The other grades on the day proved to be somewhat more of a contest, with the Gilgandra Panthers reserve grade winning 28 to 12 against Cobar, with two quick time tries after the half time break, when they lead by just six points, playing a big role in the win.
The Cobar Roosters won a highly entertaining league tag game against the Baradine Magpies winning 14 to 12 to keep their premiership hopes alive.
The preliminary finals will be played at Cobar this Saturday with the reserve grade fixture kicking off at 11.30am.
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