THE Steamers have marked captain Nathan Bright’s last home game with a backs-to-the-wall 21-17 win against Tumut.
Ahead by eight points midway through the second half the blue and golds, who were wearing Albury Tiger hybrid jumpers for injured footballer James McQuillan, had to withstand a 20-minute hammering on their own line before giving up a length of the field try when the pressure was released.
The win leaves the Steamers in second spot and with the double chance with two rounds to go, but just a point ahead of a rampaging Griffith, which hasn’t lost since the competition was split into two divisions.
Tumut will now have to rely on results to go its way to be part of the finals.
Bright at No. 8 was players’ player but coach Mick Raynes said the whole pack were worthy of an award.
“In the loss to Waratahs a week earlier probably two or three of the forwards were in the game, yesterday everyone was there and without that we don’t win,” he said.
“You won’t get a more physical side than Tumut, it was a finals like test.
“For about 20 minutes in the second half they were pounding our line — a lesser team would have given up a try.
“It was just disappointing that when the pressure was off, when we were finally down their end of the field that Tumut’s two inside backs flew the length of the field to score — on a dry track they would be a real handful.”
Raynes said Dan Hogg, who started in the backrow, Tom Rowan and halfback Hugh Erwin were the Steamers’ best.
James Kora scored both tries, and Blake Le Cornu kicked three penalties and a conversion.
“The difference this week was we played better for longer,” he said.
“Against Tahs we had 10 minutes here and there whereas today was a 70-minute effort.
“When we were stuck on our line it wasn’t just the forwards doing the grunt work, the outside backs defended well too.
“We all have a bye this weekend and that will give us a chance to rest some bodies, they are a bit beaten up after that game yesterday.”
Raynes said they had downplayed Bright’s last game.
“We didn’t want to make it too big a deal,” he said.
“But we pulled the players aside without Nathan and said that it would be a good way to end his career at Murrayfield.”