It’s been a tough season for the Dubbo Rhinos in 2017 but their final match against the Forbes Platypi at Caltex Park on Saturday summed up their season.
For more than half of their match they competed with the team that finished the Blowes Clothing Cup regular season in second place. But in the end, they were just a level below and went down 31-5.
After 35 minutes the Rhinos were level with their fancied opponents, 5-all, and a few in the crowd were wondering about the chance of an upset.
However Forbes clicked into gear and scored a try right before half-time, and another soon after the break before a red card to Javarn Nofoagatotoa really put the hosts on the back foot.
Forbes came into the match needing a win to guarantee themselves second and they opened the scoring after just five minutes when Jarrod Hall got the ball down from a rolling maul.
It was another half hour before the next points. Forbes were attacking the line again and were odds on to score but Alex Burke stepped in and intercepted the ball, running 90 metres for a try.
It did spark the Platypi into action and Jack Hammond gave them a 12-5 lead just before half-time.
They moved further ahead when Brad McMillan found space down the left flank before Nofoagatotoa’s red card.
The backrower appeared to have been caught by a high-tackle and used swearing to voice his displeasure to the referee, only to find himself being marched.
The numerical advantage helped Forbes score their fourth try and shifted the advantage to 26-5.
The last of Forbes’ tries came when Rhinos halfback Ross Gilmour was on the ground, injured while his team had the ball.
The play was allowed to continue and Dubbo had just 13 men in action and couldn’t stop Darren Piper going over.
The Rhinos weren’t able to get themselves into a position to add to their score, while with the victory secure, Forbes were happy to run down the clock.
Platypi coach Heamani Lavaka was pleased to come away with the win and said attention would now turn to the semi-finals.
“We lost four of our good players last week and we came here knowing the Rhinos would be physical so it’s a good result,” Lavaka said.
“The first half wasn’t good enough. We had to play better in the second half but it’s a different competition in the finals and I hope my boys are ready.”
Rhinos mentor Dave Stuart said he had no issues with referee Stacey Irvine and said
“You have to go with the referee’s decision. Calling back at the ref isn’t going to help you,” he said.
“I thought Stacey refereed the game pretty well. There might have been a few head-highs in there but that was coming from both sides.
“Credit to Forbes they didn’t give us the ball in the second half so we couldn’t get any plays happening.”
Forbes escaped the match without any injuries and will prepare to meet the Dubbo Kangaroos in the opening round of the semi-finals.