The Narromine Jets suffered yet another defeat on the road at the weekend, despite a gallant effort against the Nyngan Tigers.
The Tigers were without a number of key men on the park and produced an error-ridden performance, with the Jets able to capitalise on many of those mistakes.
To their credit they were able to cross for several tries, but the Tigers showed why they sit at second on the Group 11 competition ladder by knuckling down and recording an important 26-16 win.
The Tigers were without captain-coach Stuart Mills, as well as Reece Goldsmith, Sam Simmons and Crete Walker from the starting side.
As a result play was a bit disjointed at times, with errors and a woeful completion rate – something that will need to be seriously addressed in coming weeks – allowing Narromine to stay in the game.
But the absence of key players meant others had to step up. Nyngan fullback Rob Gudgeon was superb under the high ball, while forwards Tunui Maurangi and Norman Fuiava also stepped up.
Fuiava in particular was a real handful for the Jets as his powerful runs put the Tigers on the front foot in attack.
Tigers Troy Evans, Jacob Neill, Todd Rope, Mitchell Rixon and Jone Yacadrau all crossed for tries, while Tuiloma Atuau converted three from five with the boot.
The loss leaves the Jets languishing at seventh on the ladder, but not completely out of touch.
The gaping space between the competition’s top four and the rest of the sides means the Jets are only three points behind the Dubbo Macquarie Raiders in fifth, and two points adrift of the Wellington Cowboys in sixth.
They will have a chance to advance as early as this weekend when they head to Kennard Park to face the Cowboys, in the same round as the Dubbo derby between the Macquarie Raiders and competition heavyweights CYMS.
If they could pull off the upset – they lost narrowly 34-28 at the last meeting – the Jets could leapfrog the Cowboys to draw level with Macquarie, who are widely tipped to lose against CYMS.
Meanwhile the Tigers have been catapulted into second place, leapfrogging Parkes after the Spacemen lost 42-22 to Dubbo CYMS.
It was CYMS’ tenth straight victory. They now sit five points clear at the top of the ladder, followed by the Nyngan Tigers (15 points) and Forbes Magpies and Parkes Spacemen (14).