WALCHA’s Ed Churchill scored two tries in seven minutes to rob Tamworth of victory 27-24 in the final minute at Rugby Park on Saturday.
Magpies captain and new father Rhys Duncan’s return heralded three tries but it wasn’t enough to stop a determined Rams outfit.
Despite being short a few players, Walcha put in a spirited second-half comeback to register its fourth win for the season.
Walcha captain and flyhalf Simon Newton took control of the game late and saw the Rams home with a great pass to instigate Churchill’s second.
The captain said that the Rams started slowly and were scrappy but praised the defence of his side.
“We try to play mistake-free footy but today it wasn’t there,” Newton said.
“They had a good driving maul and were getting over us at the breakdowns.”
Magpies coach and super sub Ross Duncan agreed.
“That was our best 80 minutes of football this season,” a frustrated Duncan said.
“We scored tries when we should have scored them and played as a team.”
“It was very unfortunate to get two tries in the last ten minutes against the run of play.”
The Tamworth pack was deadly every time it got a set piece near the line, with Duncan’s three all from the back of a maul.
A 10-3 halftime lead was stretched out to 17-6 before a Steve Liddle try turned the game on its head.
Ten minutes later a poor Magpie grubber through the line was scooped up by inside centre Churchill who flew 70m past the grandstand to score.
The try was awarded despite cries of a fumble from the Tamworth crowd.
After kicking off on the full, Walcha was handed the ball back by a Tamworth mistake and took full advantage.
A bit of Newton magic saw him swerve through the line and hand off to Churchill to finish with a good burst of pace.
“He is a good finisher and always pops up in the right place,” Newton said.
Aggressive flanker Harry Veitch was one of Tamworth’s best with his work around the ruck.
Nick Humphries directed the attack well at the back of the breakdowns and controlled the first half.
Newton took the ref’s points for his classy performance, while flanker Will Fletcher also got the nod for his tireless work.
With the tier system going ahead, both sides finished in the bottom tier and both will be on the road next week.
Tamworth will travel to Scone and Walcha will play in Barraba.
In the new system, both sides now have a chance to play finals footy and will have that in mind as they enter the second round.