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The build-up to Sunday’s first grade grand final was dominated by the excitement around Nyngan as the Tigers prepared for their maiden Group 11 decider.
But that’s not the way Tim Ryan saw it.
The Tigers faithful had the chance to be a part of grand final week for the first time and while it was seven straight deciders for CYMS, that didn’t make the 34-18 victory at Caltex Park any less sweet.
“It was all about Nyngan never having won one so my theme for this week was, what where they celebrating about? We’ve won 14 now and that’s something to be proud of,” he said.
“All week I drummed into the boys every year we’ve won the competition and made it about how we wanted to join them in the history books and we did that.”
While the final margin was 16 points, the match in front of a massive 5125 fans was far closer.
The crowd was electric all day, with the $39,300 in gate takings the biggest in Group 11.
In the main game, the sides seemed certain to go into half-time at 12-all but two minutes before the break a bomb from Alex Bonham, who went on to be named the Bob Weir Medal winner for best on ground, was allowed to bounce 20m from the Nyngan line and CYMS regathered, put it through the hands and Matt Naden scored.
Both Ryan and Nyngan captain-coach Stewart Mills stated that was a major moment in the match, and despite the Tigers getting within four points in the second half, the Fishies were too strong defensively while also counter-punching with class.
Making the win even the more impressive was the fact Naden and Ben Marlin didn’t play in the second half due to injury while fullback Kieran Cubby-Shipp battled through a severe corked thigh for most of the game.
The win rid CYMS of any memories of last season’s shock grand final loss to Forbes and made it three titles in the five years Ryan has been at the helm.
“It was just rewards, I think, for the five years of hard work,” Ryan said.
“This is the pinnacle and why we start work in pre-season, for a day like this with a crowd like this. It doesn’t get any better.”
CYMS shot out of the gates early, Cubby-Shipp jinking his way to the tryline inside three minutes to silence the huge amount of Nyngan fans who had made the trip to Larkin Oval.
Both sides had chances as the game swung to-and-fro but in the blink of an eye Nyngan was in front through tries to Benni Cokanasiga, courtesy of a terrible CYMS pass inside their own 10m, and fullback Brett Howard.
CYMS worked back into the game and Wade Kavanagh crossed after a simple right-to-left move to help get it all square before Naden’s four-pointer meant CYMS went into the break with a 16-12 lead.
It was a willing start to the second half and Nyngan got itself in great territory but a Mills short ball was plucked by Bonham 10m out and he raced 90m to set up a 22-12 lead.
Nyngan again hit back through Mitch Rixon, but then ill-discipline from Reece Goldsmith hurt the Tigers.
59 | Pickering converts from right in front and it's 28-18 over Nyngan with 21 minutes to go. That's a big lead in a grand final #Group11— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) September 10, 2017
Firstly he hit Brad Pickering late after the CYMS men kicked on the fifth tackle and then he carried on in the ruck just two minutes later.
CYMS didn’t need any more invitation and Bonham muscled his way across for a second to make the margin 10 again.
From there CYMS controlled proceedings and a try to Viliame Turuva, after a fantastic chip and chase from Jyie Chapman, two minutes from time sealed the win.
“It’s not a good feeling at the moment,” Mills said after the loss.
“We worked so hard for this moment and we let it slip away. Just little things went wrong in the game and a few things didn’t go our way and it was unfortunate to see that scoreline.”
While shattered after losing a grand final, it didn’t take Mills long to start looking forward.
“It’s been unreal. I never expected anything like this,” he said of his first coaching job.
“But the things we’ve achieved, it’s made me want it a bit more so we’ll see what happens but hopefully I can get back here next year and we can work a bit harder.”