The Cowra Eagles have been left to rue some poor discipline in the packs after a 21-14 loss to the Forbes Platypi at the Cowra Rugby Grounds on Saturday afternoon.
The loss leaves Cowra in third place after the fourth-placed Dubbo Kangaroos had a 21-point loss to the Orange Emus on the weekend, while for the Platypi the win keeps their finals chances alive.
A scrappy contest riddled with penalties on both sides, the game was nevertheless evenly poised at half-time, with neither team managing to put in a decisive period of dominance.
While the undermanned Eagles worked their way into the lead, with an try to winger Vilimoni Turagarua capped off by a difficult conversion from Gonzarlo Carrizo at the 20 minute mark, by half-time Isac Stewart had returned the favour, with Angus King putting the ball through the goals to leave the scores at 7-7.
After half-time, while the penalties - both teams showed a willingness to test out the ruck throughout - continued to amass, it was the Eagles who controlled the territory, with flanker Will Turner's willingness to compete and Joe Dakuitoga's scrum work particularly notable.
While the patience of the Platypi paid off first, with outside-centre and captain Jack Hammond putting through a try in the 65th minute that was duly converted by King, Carrizo gingerly left the field, leaving the Eagles to scrap during the remaining minutes without their first choice full-back.
But not for the first time this year, the Eagles team, at home, fought back. A superb bit of bullocking work from Dakuitoga earned the team a try in the 69th minute, with Ingmar Talman converting to get the game back on level terms.
With the home crowd up and about as the game approached the final whistle and the Platypi's season on a precarious footing if they lost the match, the stage was set.
It was the away side that capitalised though, an exquisite bit of foot work from Stewart breaking the Eagles' line to ensure a try under the goals and the easiest of conversions for King in the game's 78th minute, giving the Platypi a seven point win.
Speaking after the game, Hammond, who is also the co-coach of the team, said Forbes just had to be patient given the contest's scrappy nature.
"There was times in the first half where we had opportunities but we just flustered and we dropped the ball or panicked a bit," Hammond said.
"We just had to be patient... grind it, stick it out and really, get over that game line."
He also said part of the reason for the second half improvement was found in a willingness to back the team's own brand of footy to get the job done.
"We just didn't want to fall into the mentality of taking the game into our own hands... We really stuck to our guns."
Meanwhile, Eagles co-coach Colin Kilby said it was simply a lack of discipline that cost his team.
"We played into that... we started talking amongst each other... we got to get back and play our game, it's the only thing we can control."
However, Kilby said there was a good chance of improvement over the coming weeks with the likes of Tim Berry, Chris Miller, Jeremy Montgomery and Troy Jeffs all back in the next week or two.
"We'll just look to regroup with a few numbers coming back next week... hopefully put a strong squad out and look to build now towards finals from here."
- FORBES PLATYPI 21 (Tries: Isac Stewart 2, Jack Hammond, Goals: Angus King 3) def. COWRA EAGLES 14 (Tries: Vilimoni Turagarua, Joe Dakuitoga, Goals: Gonzarlo Carrizo, Ingmar Talman)