Buccaneers dealt a rough hand as finals chances slip
YAMBA Buccaneers' dream of a finals berth appears dashed after a 32-19 loss to Wollongbar-Alstonville on Saturday.
The Buccaneers were already walking the finals tightrope and had set themselves the task of winning all remaining games to make the final four in the reserve-grade competition.
But that plan has been scuttled after just one game, despite producing periods of play that coach Tim Gooley said was their best of the season.
"It's pretty frustrating but was probably one of our better performances," Gooley said.
"We were under pressure early but the boys fought back to score two tries. Wollongbar brought a few first graders on after half-time and took control.
"We finished strongly and probably were the stronger side for the last 10 minutes."
It was during that final stanza that the Buccaneers scored the last of their tree tries but the damage had been done.
The turning point, like most weeks, was the injection of several first graders.
Yamba, who have only a reserve-grade side, are in the unavoidable situation of facing clubs whose first-grade sides have the bye.
There are also occasions that the club's President's Cup team enjoys a bye the same weekend, providing the opposition with up to three teams to choose from to face the Buccaneers.
It is one of the most difficult challenges Gooley and his troops have to overcome but there does not appear to be any solution.
"Even the ref made a point of mentioning it during the speeches after the game," Gooley said.
"We're always in the same situation with the draw, it's just something we seem to cop.
"In their defence it's tough for them to set it up any differently.
"It's difficult for everyone and it hurts us in the back end of the season."
So instead of the Buccaneers gathering momentum ahead of the reserve-grade finals, they are planning to make the most of their remaining five games with an eye to next season.
"If we were playing reserve-grade sides every week we'd be there," Gooley said. "We thought we had to win all of our remaining games from last week so now it's probably out of reach."
Yamba are currently sixth, equal on points but one spot behind Grafton Redmen with five games remaining. Lennox Head is nine points clear in fourth.
If either club is any chance of making the finals they will need to win their remaining games and hope Lennox Head drop at least two games.
Lennox Head beat the Redmen 19-5 on Saturday.
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