With a performance built on pressure and belief, Coleambally’s premiership campaign is back on track as they booked a spot in next Sunday’s second semi-final with an upset win over The Rock-Yerong Creek.
Seven days after their season threatened to implode in a 98-point loss to East Wagga-Kooringal, the Blues returned to Gumly Oval and exorcised some demons with a 4.12 (36) to 2.3 (15) victory.
Coach Josh Hamilton paid tribute to his players for turning things around.
“I’ve just got a great bunch of blokes, that’s what makes my job easy,” Hamilton said.
“It’s not about me yelling at them. When they decide to turn it on, they turn it on, simple as that.”
Turn it on they did, with a desperation and desire that kept the Pies out of the contest.
“Just pressure – we get ourselves into games by pressuring sides,” Hamilton said.
Passing showers made for a greasy surface but the first-year coach insisted Coly’s advantage was composure, not the conditions.
“Last week we got our pants pulled down,” he said.
“People can say what they like about wet weather or dry weather but when we turn up to play, it’s a different story.”
It was hard to argue when the Blues were the only team to look like opening it up.
The Southern Inland rugby grand final was a higher scoring affair but Coly’s scoring shots (16 to 5) told the tale better than the total.
They dominated possession – and an opposition who won a grand final last year with 16 scoring shots.
Graham O’Connell kicked the only goal of the first term but Coleambally could’ve kicked another three, while the Pies were held scoreless.
The second quarter wasn’t as dominant but veteran Billy Cerato controlled much of their play – and wasn’t afraid to unleash a torpedo or two – while fellow midfielder Drew Kenna brought drive.
And they could’ve blown the game apart early in the third quarter when they had all the run, but there were three more behinds before Jake Breed found their third goal for a 24-point lead.
All those misses threatened to come back to haunt Coleambally when TRYC co-coach Andy Carey narrowed the margin to 18 points with his side’s first goal after the three-quarter-time siren.
And fellow co-coach Andrew Clarke – thrown forward in desperation – kicked another early in the last quarter.
But the Blues weren’t about to let it slip and Nathan Jones iced the game with his second goal as Coleambally booked a rematch with the Hawks at Robertson Oval.
“A 100-point loss will knock the wind out of anyone – it certainly did to us,” Hamilton said.
“Today is hopefully going to give the boys a bit more belief – to be on the front foot next week, take it to them (EWK) and see if we can get ourselves into a grand final.”
Coleambally 1.3, 2.4, 3.9, 4.12 (36)
The Rock-Yerong Ck 0.0, 0.1, 1.3, 2.3 (15)
GOALS: (Coleambally) N. Jones 2, J. Breed 1, G. O'Connell 1; (TRYC) A. Carey 1, A. Clarke 1.
BEST (Coleambally): C. Pound, J. Hamilton, G. O'Connell, J. Breed, C. Cerato, B. Jones; (TRYC) J. Ashcroft, C. Hillary, A. Saddler, A. Carey, C. White, D. Steele.