THE Cooma Red Devils first grade side have recorded one of their most important wins of the season, claiming victory over ADFA in extra time on Saturday to edging closer to securing a spot in the Grand Final.
In front of a large home crowd, the Red Devils defeated ADFA 38-35 in their home semi-final and will face RMC next weekend for a chance to play in the Grand Final against Goulburn.
First grade took to the field on Saturday knowing that a win was required to keep their season alive.
Both sides came out and for the first 10 minutes tussled to try and gain the upper hand. However, neither side took a backward step except for the big tackles that were being pulled off. Cooma was the first to post points for the afternoon when Ryan Morgan kicked a penalty goal to give Cooma a three nil lead. ADFA replied with a penalty goal to level the scores at three all. Cooma extended its lead with a second penalty goal but ADFA hit back with a penalty goal of their own to again level the scores at 6 all.
Strong forward runs from Brock Robinson, Andrew Rolfe and Ben Neilson got Cooma across the advantage line and with this Cooma was able to go on the attack and from close range Pat Egan barged through the defence to score. Morgan converted and Cooma's lead was out to 13-6. But it was the ADFA kicker who was making the most of the Red Devil's indiscretions and with a couple of long range penalties to narrow the lead 12-13. A couple of crucial injuries to Matthew Moxon and Leighton Bates meant that the makeup of the side had to be changed around with Pat Egan going back to the centres.
With the first half going on for what felt like forever with the ref making up the injury and stoppage time, meant that Cooma went in to half time leading by one point. Half time saw Cooma rally and it was Ben Kelly who posted first points when he scored a run away try down the blind side. With Matt Crowley taking over the kicking duties he stepped up and nailed the conversion from the side line to give Cooma a 20-12 lead but again ADFA kicked a penalty to narrow the margin again. They then regained the lead with a converted try to take the lead 22-20. Cooma dug deep and with strong runs from Phil Johnson, Tommy Maxwell and Matt Barnier who had replaced Bates were getting Cooma over the advantage line. From this Will Nicholls was able to find space out wide dummy and go straight through and score. Matt Crowley was unable to convert but Cooma was back in the lead 25-22. With seven minutes to go ADFA made a break and Ryan Morgan pulled off a one on one tackle but being isolated he then made the next tackle from an offside position to stop a certain try and the ref saw it as a professional fowl and yellow carded Morgan.
The ADFA kicker again kicked another penalty to level the scores at 25 all with six minutes left on the clock and Cooma was a man down. ADFA had the ball and for the last six minutes and attacked for a majority of it. With all but time up, ADFA made a break but a try saving tackle from Steven Boate stopped ADFA scoring and with time up and the scores locked meant that the game went into extra time with it to be 10 minutes each way.
ADFA came out stronger in extra time and kicked away to a 10 point lead when they were able to score a converted try and another penalty goal to give them a 35-25 lead. Cooma rallied and with the season on the line went on the attack and with Matt Jamieson making strong metres down field the forwards were able to pick and drive towards the line and quick hands saw Pat Egan dive over out wide.
Matt Crowley stepped up and nailed the conversion from the sideline to get it back to a three point game. After a two minute break the teams swapped sides and it was Cooma who controlled the ball for the last stanza working together to get within striking range and with a penalty in front of the posts Matt Crowley again kicked a penalty to level the scores at 35 all.
Cooma again worked the ball back into ADFA's half and were awarded a penalty 20 meters out, 15 meters in from the side line, Matt Crowley again stepped up and piloted the ball between the posts to give Cooma the lead with a minute to go. From the kickoff Cooma held the ball for two rucks and then were awarded a penalty which gave Cooma a nail biting victory 38-35 with both Red Devils sides now getting another chance to keep their season alive.