Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Deniliquin Drovers go down fighting

Deniliquin Drovers were unable to defeat Temora on Saturday despite a late second-half surge.

May 27, 2014 3:45am

It takes two Temora players to stop young winger Tjunda Keefe-Jones on Saturday.

A late second-half surge was not enough for the Deniliquin Drovers to steal victory from home side Temora on Saturday.

The Drovers, who could only muster the bare 15 players for their tough road trip, lost 24-15 to the Tuskers.

The Deni side hammered the Temora defensive line late in the game but still came up short.

‘‘We had our chances to draw the game,’’ Drovers coach Warwick Strong said.

‘‘Nathan (Holahan) missed a conversation late in the game and this would have got us within a converted try (seven points).

‘‘We peppered the Temora line in the dying stages but just couldn’t get over for our third try.

‘‘I was really pleased with our efforts though, especially when you consider we didn’t have a bench.

‘‘The competition is so even that when you’re missing a couple of key players like we were it can be hard to make up that difference,’’ Strong said.

The Drovers only hit the scoreboard once in the first half with five-eighth and captain Holahan slotting a penalty conversation for the opening score of the game.

Temora responded by crossing the try line twice and kicking a penalty conversion to hold a commanding 17-3 lead at the break.

To the visitors’ credit, they did well to contain the Tuskers’ scoreline and stay in the match in the opening half.

Temora was the first to score in the second half, a converted try almost sinking any hopes of a Drovers victory.

But the visitors hit back with veteran Michael Pisasale crashing over the try line near the uprights after a series of pick and drives from Deni’s big men. Holahan converted and the score was 24-10.

Some individual brilliance from the Drovers’ skipper then closed the gap even further. Holahan cut through the Tuskers’ defence to run 50m and score near the posts.

Unfortunately, with time against him, Holahan rushed the kick and missed the conversion, leaving the Drovers more than a converted try away from victory at 24-15.

This would remain the final scoreline despite a big push from the visitors in the dying minutes of the match.

‘‘We fell about half a metre short of the try line in the last few minutes,’’ Strong said.

‘‘Travelling that far and having a lot of players out it was still a good result.

‘‘Temora were the better side but we showed a lot of heart to get back in it after half time.’’

Winger Sam Tuliau received three votes as the Drovers’ best player.

Holahan was next best with two votes, while breakaway Dan Hallman received one vote.

Utility forward Te Aroha ‘TA’ Keremeta claimed the Players’ Player mug.

Others to impress coach Strong were giant number eight Scott Francis, who showed his versatility by shifting to outside centre, and teenage winger Tjunda Keefe-Jones.

Strong also praised his backs, rating their performance on Saturday as their best for the season.

The Drovers now have a 3-4 win-loss record as they prepare to host Wagga Waratahs at Memorial Park in round 8 of Southern Inland Rugby Union’s reserve grade competition.

A kick-off time will be confirmed in Friday’s Pastoral Times.

The ever-improving lady Drovers posted their best result for the season despite going down 40-0 Temora.

Tracey Ho was named best for the local ladies with Claire Harris, Stacey O’Meara and Jodie Graham among the better players.

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