Oxley Pioneers under-18s smile for the camera before taking on Newcastle but had the grins wiped in a controversial finish.
Oxley Pioneers under-18s smile for the camera before taking on Newcastle but had the grins wiped in a controversial finish. submitted

Pioneers fail to make final

OXLEY Pioneers boss Peter Barrett will leave it until the off-season before making a decision on his coaching future.

“I might put in to coach the Comets,” Barrett quipped after the Pioneers under-18s missed the Country Rugby League championship final for the first time under his command.

In a highly controversial last few minutes, Newcastle Rebels edged out Oxley 36-28 in the game played at Bathurst on the weekend.

Working a scrum 10 metres off their line, the Rebels knocked on but instead of awarding a scrum feed to Oxley, the referee determined the ball had been touched by Pioneers in an off-side position and awarded a penalty to Newcastle.

“Fair dinkum, when I saw that I was dumbfounded,” Barrett admitted about the ‘invisible hand’ incident.

“None of our kids were anywhere near it and the ruling was mystifying.

“The boys blew up and Matt Parsons our trainer was on the field when it happened and swears we were nowhere near the ball.”

The kick from the penalty took Newcastle inside Oxley’s half and they scored the match-winning try within the next set of six tackles.

In the beginning, Rebels came out of the blocks hard and led 12-0 after ten minutes but with their kickers off target, Pioneers were able to stay in the game.

“Seriously, it was the worst we played during the whole tournament,” Barrett said.

“We dropped too much ball on the first or second tackle which made sure we were always the ones doing the chasing.”

Still, the side fought back and actually led 16-12 but yet another error from the side allowed Rebels to jump ahead 18-16 at half time.

A great individual try from Woolgoolga’s Steve Goodwin under the posts saw Pioneers jump to the front early in the second half but they continued to turn over the ball and allowed the Rebels to come back, time and time again.

“We were not the better side on the day but probably still should have won ... that happens a lot in rep footy,” Barrett remarked.

Barrett will take part in a final debriefing of coaches, selectors and management at the end of the representative season to prepare a fresh strategy for 2011.



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