TAMWORTH scored a late try to deny Barraba a deserved win and set up a potentially second-deciding clash against Scone next week.
Centre Kieran McHugh was the hero for the Magpies, scoring with about four minutes to go to snatch a 38-34 win.
It keeps them locked level on points with the Brumbies after they too had a win.
They were a little bit more convincing, dispatching the Lions 44-5, but didn’t play that well.
Neither did the Magpies.
The home side was “fairly ordinary” for probably three-quarters of the game.
“We played very poorly for the first 60 minutes,” captain Rhys Duncan said.
“The first 40 was one of the worst 40 minutes we’ve played all year.”
They didn’t retain any ball and didn’t maintain their structure.
“We didn’t put the phases together,” Duncan said.
They scored first but the Rams hit back to lead 17-14 at half-time and at one stage, Duncan said, were up by about 15 points.
But the Magpies managed to find their form and peg that back.
“The last 20 were a bit better,” Duncan said.
“We got a bit of structure happening.”
It was a measure of how far they have come – getting the win.
“The positive thing is that would have been a game we lost last year and the year before,” Duncan said.
Harry Veitch was a standout at breakaway.
He played a big part in getting them back into the game, scoring three good individual tries and having a typically busy game.
His efforts saw him pick up the three points and players’ player.
Prop Tom Chaffey picked up the two points and Adam Penman the one.
The Rams, while disappointed with the loss, took it as a sign that they are improving.
After scoring a late penalty to take the lead at the break, they led by 10 for a lot of the second half, centre Luke Smith said.
Importantly, when the Magpies scored they scored straight back.
Unfortunately though, they faded a bit in the final minutes.
“We started to play for the clock with 10 minutes to go,” Smith said.
Fatigue started to set in and they went into their shells a bit.
“A few things made the game a bit difficult,” he said.
Their kicking game early on was a feature.
“We kept it down out of our half,” Smith said.
That dropped away as they got tired, with the kick-chase not having the same intensity.
It left breaks in the defensive line.
Generally the defence was good, although they did struggle a bit containing the Magpies when they got in their 22.
Five-eighth Kris Halloran was adjudged their best, followed by Will Robinson and John Carruthers.
They shared the two, with winger Nilsson West getting the one and players’ player.