Mounties have bowed out of the 2014 VB NSW Cup finals series with a disappointing 36-28 loss to the NZ Warriors on Sunday at Leichhardt Oval.
With the prospect of having a host of Canberra Raiders stars return to the club if they got through week 1 it was a shocking start for Mounties with slow play the balls and penalties gifting the Warriors a try in the 8th minute where they led 6-0.
It didn't get any better for Mounties when Ryan Carr was injured in a tackle and the Warriors were smart enough to exploit the extra man and score down his edge for a 12 nil lead in the 15th minute.
Soon after the horror story continued for Mounties with continued penalties and wrong options handing the Warriors field position and in the space of 10 minutes they had scored another two tries to lead 22-0 at the 25 minute mark.
It took Mounties until the half hour mark before they woke up and it was Reece Robinson who crossed when he got a nice pass from Jack Ahearn who has sliced the Warriors line open to make it 22-4 after Campese missed the conversion.
Mounties leading try scorer Sami Sauiluma then scored his customary try, crashing over in the corner with Campese making the conversion, Mounties trailed 22-10.
Five minutes later the Warriors looked fatigued and Tevita Pangai took advantage of the lack lustre defence to barge over near the posts to make 22-16 with the conversion and Mounties suddenly looked energetic.
With only second left on the clock a penalty saw Campese kick a 40/20 and from the restart it was shifted to Mounties left edge with winger Wayne Dargan almost going over in the corner but he was denied and the score remained 22-16 at the break.
The second half commenced with a 10 minute feeling out process and a penalty in front of the posts after a Campese dropout went out on the full saw the Warriors kick a goal to make it an eight point lead 24-16.
The second half was a carbon copy of the first with silly mistakes and penalties gifting the game to the Warriors and they scored in the 60th minute next to the posts to make it 30-16.
Five minutes later more penalties saw the Warriors sneak in another try and it appeared all over for Mounties as they trailed 36-16.
True to their first half form Mounties then came to life and in the 71st minute the ball travelled through several sets of hands before it found an unmarked Kyle O'Donnell on the inside and he scored a converted try to make the deficit 36-22.
With time running out and the Warriors tiring it was Campese who got the break when he grubbered and regathered from 10 metres out to score near the uprights to make it 36-28 and with only minutes left it was up to the experienced players to make it happen.
In the 78th minute it was O'Donnell again who got the break and after beating several defenders he got a pass off on the inside to Mosese Pangai who looked likely to score however the ball was fumbled and went into the arms of a Warriors defender.
The Warriors were then able to wind down the clock and advance to the second week of the finals while Mounties were left to think about the what if's.
While the season may be over for the VB NSW Cup team our Sydney Shield and Ron Massey Cup teams both had impressive wins in their opening finals game with Shield defeating Cabramatta by 38-12 to advance to week 2 of the finals where they will face off against Wentworthville while the Ron Massey Cup team defeated Asquith by 22-10 and have earned the week off.
As this will be the last VB NSW Cup match report Mounties would like to take this opportunity to thanks the Canberra Raiders and Ricky Stuart for their continued support of our partnership throughout the season.
There are many challenges that clubs face on a day to day basis throughout the course of a year and the professionalism of Ricky and his staff have made those challenges all the more easy to manage in 2014.
We wish all Raiders fans the very best in the off season and thank you for your support at games in the Capital, at our home ground, away and online and we are more than confident that with the plans put in place by your front office 2015 will be bright.
Until next season #UpTheMulga