The Cooma Red Devils travelled to Hall on Saturday afternoon to take on the Hall Bushrangers in the last game of the regular season and came away with mixed results with second grade going down but first grade getting home in a nail biter.
First grade took to the field on Saturday knowing that it was going to be a tough contest with Hall not making the finals in first grade so it was their last game of the season and they would want to finish the season with some pride.
From the opening whistle it was a brutal exchange at the breakdown with Hall looking to spoil any clean ball that Cooma was trying get. This meant that a scrappy but brutal game was unfolding. Hall went on the attack early but good defence from Tom Laddams, Leighton Bates and Matt Barnier who played two full games stopped Hall from posting early points. Cooma was able to post first points when 40 metres out from the Hall try line Will Nicholls put in a perfectly placed cross field kick that found the 'E train' Eddie Thomas in full flight catch the ball and dive over in the corner. Ryan Morgan couldn't convert but Cooma had an early 5-0 lead.
Hall hit back with an unconverted try to lock the scores up at 5 all. Cooma regained the lead after some strong runs from Ben Nielson, Pat Egan and Phil Johnson got the Red Devils into good field position and from this Tommy Laddams crashed through the defence to score.
Ryan Morgan converted and Cooma had regained the lead. Hall kicked two penalty goals and went into half time trailing 11-12. The second half was continuation of the first half with Hall trying to spoil and get Cooma away from the structure that they wanted to play.
Cooma were defending well and with Steven Boate spoiling the Hall ball at every scrum Cooma was able to go on the attack and after attacking Hall's line Cooma spread the ball wide and Ben Kelly crashed over out wide. Morgan again converted and Cooma extended its lead to 19-11. Cooma again extended its lead further when five minutes later Tommy Laddams scored his second try after he ran a good inside line off Will Nicholls and scored untouched.
Morgan added the extras and Cooma's lead was 26-11, but as per usual Cooma switched off with 19 minutes to go and this allowed for a nail biting finish as Hall rallied and scored two late tries which made the final score 26-25. Points in first grade 1 point Ben Neilson, 2 points Leighton Bates, 3 points Tom Laddams and player's player Steven Boate. Elimination finals start next week with both sides making the finals which will see second grade take on Yass after they finished fourth and first grade will take on ADFA after they finished in third spot. So this means that both sides have to win to stay in the competition.
Reserve grade took to the field with a close to full strength side and for the opening exchanges of the match both sides went at each other but when a minor altercation erupted between the two sides and Cooma was awarded a penalty 20 metres out from the Hall line and with this Matt Crowley kicked any early penalty to give Cooma a 3-0 lead.
Hall then went on the attack but strong defence from James Dorahy, the Schouten brothers and Mitch Doyle at full back pulling off a couple of beaut try saving tackles. Hall was able to sustain this attack and with that were able to score out wide.
Hall scored again before half time to go to the break leading 12-3. After half time Cooma came out with a point to prove and with strong runs from Barnsey, Damo Allen and Matt Perkins it was not long before Cooma was on the attack and after attacking the line Cooma switched the play and Neil Schouten was able to put Matt Crowley over out wide.
Another altercation broke out and with both sides losing players to the bin this opened the game up, and with Hall leading 12-10 it was anyone's game but injuries to Cooma players and a couple of missed opportunities with a dropped ball at the try line and a try off a forward pass Cooma could not post further points. But it was Hall who capitalised and scored four tries late in the match to run away with the game 43-10. Points in second grade 1 point Sam Hand, 2 points Neil Schouten, 3 points Matt Barnier and Players player Mitch Doyle.