THE Charles Sturt University Mungoes have claimed their second Centennial Coal Cup title in three years after CSU Yellow defeated the Blackheath Blackcats 22-10 in Saturday’s grand final on University Oval.
Since joining the cup in 2012, the Mungoes club have been involved in three successive grand finals, and Saturday’s result adds another chapter to the CSU success story.
Blackheath caused some nervous moments for the students after Yellow carried a 20-0 lead into half-time, responding with two tries, but couldn’t find any further breakthrough in the last 20 minutes.
Three sin bins for the Blackcats did not make their comeback easy.
After getting by the Blackcats to book their place in the grand final, Yellow had to come out and prove that they could put in a repeat performance.
They looked like doing just that early on with two tries in the first 15 minutes to Dean Hodges and Tom McDevitt, taking the score out to 10-0.
Blackheath were forced into giving away set after set, kicking four drop goals for the half and forced into being stuck in their own half of the field.
Rob McMahon got CSU out to a 16-0 lead, and eight minutes before the break Blackcats’ Brad Jervis found himself sin binned to give Yellow a one-man advantage.
With two minutes remaining, Blackcats were reduced to 11 when coach Jed Jervis was given the same marching orders.
Sam Pasakarnis punished the visitors as he added the fourth Mungoes try of the day with 50 seconds left until half-time.
Both teams gave themselves early opportunities at the resumption, with Blackheath knocking on just metres shy of the Yellow try line, while a loose ball was fumbled 20m out from the Blackcats own try line by CSU.
Blackheath were awarded a penalty for a high shot, and used their field position well to score their first try of the day through Steve Easter.
More poor Mungoes discipline gave Blackheath a second try with 20 minutes left thanks to Mark Barratt.
After sustaining plenty of pressure from the visitors, CSU got a break of their own with 11 minutes left through a penalty goal against the run of play.
Ryan Jervis became the third sin bin victim of the day with six minutes left, and it brought an end to the Blackcats’ chances.
With regular captain Brad Dewar out injured, Brad Wright was the man in charge for the Mungoes’ triumph.
He believed the win was a testament to his team being able to come out on the front foot early.
“We had a stellar first half. The boys just went out there and did everything that we asked of them. We were really strong and we curbed their aggression. We got the momentum on our side early,” he said.
“We were a bit flat there in the back of the second half, which is something that we’ve done a bit all year. But we held them out and we managed to step it up a gear ... We were expecting Blackheath to come out hard and it’s no accident that they were here. We expect them to be back in this spot next year.”
Blackcats coach Jervis said although his team felt that things may not have gone their way, he was proud of their season.
“I can’t knock their effort today. The boys faced a lot of adversity out there. We just wanted one 50-50 but didn’t get one. It just felt like we were digging a hole and the hole was getting bigger and bigger,” he said.
“I’m so proud, though, of that second half. We had blokes get put in the bin for nothing ... but it doesn’t matter because, to be honest, they played well and they outplayed us in the end.”
CSU YELLOW 22 (Dean Hodges, Tom McDevitt, Rob McMahon, Sam Pasakarnis tries; Hodges penalty goal; Hodges 2 conversions) defeated BLACKHEATH BLACKCATS 10 (Steve Easter, Mark Barratt tries; Matt Ranse conversion)