The Cossacks season came to an end in Byron Bay last Saturday when the Richmond Rangers reversed the scoreline from the previous week with a 21-15 victory. They will go on to contest the final of the Presidents Cup rugby union competition.
Again, it was another enthralling struggle. Iluka led early by virtue of a penalty goal and hit the lead again mid-way through the second half but failed to go on with it and did not take advantage of a strong wind which should have kept the game in the opposition quarter.
Local Yamba referee Peter Campbell officiated, and he did a good job in keeping the game flowing as best he could and with a minimum of penalties (only 21) which were evenly shared.
Richmond led 14-3 at half time courtesy of some strong forward surges, but the cruellest blow came just on half time when they scored under the posts with the last play of that half. It was a ‘coach killer’ and what made it worse was that Iluka at that time were without 5/8 Grant Brown whose ill-discipline saw him sinbinned just earlier.
The second half saw Iluka use the wind constructively and score two nice tries. The first came from a kick and chase supported by some speedy backs.
Then at the 25 minute mark, Iluka put a high ball up and the opposition let it bounce and it was kicked again by the men in red and white to score what was generally agreed the best try of the day. Brown converted from wide out and Iluka hit the lead 15-14. It should have stayed that way, but penalties gave the Ranges some momentum and with advantage being played (for an eternity it seemed) they finally went over next to the posts with just minutes to go to. We had one final ‘Hail Mary’ play in the dying seconds but a poor pass and a panic kick saw that opportunity go out the window.
Iluka can be proud of their efforts through the season. When most other teams were giving up on football of all codes, Matty Lee and his loyal supporters kept the game alive and gave the locals something to cheer about. Coach Tony Wiseman was philosophical after the match saying we probably deserved the result and the way it panned out. With almost ten players out due to injury or registration issues those who played did their supporters proud.
Best players on the day (and most of the season for that matter) were half back Josh Morris, Kiah Hurrel and stalwart Matt Lee. Players and coach are looking forward to 2021. They have some new ideas and at least some momentum following this difficult season.