ALBURY Thunder’s seemingly impregnable hold on top spot on the Group 9 rugby league ladder is under threat after going down to Gundagai 16-6 at Anzac Park yesterday.
With the scores locked at 6-6 at half-time, the Tigers’ kicking game proved the difference in the wet conditions, with Gundagai hooker James Luff orchestrating a thrilling victory.
The Thunder must now defeat second-placed Southcity at Greenfield Park on Sunday to be guaranteed a home final.
They may have to do it without inspirational captain Lou Goodwin, who left the field in the final 10 minutes with a shoulder injury.
Coach Josh Cale conceded Gundagai adapted better to the conditions.
“Our effort was good but we didn’t play smart enough,” Cale said.
“We were too lateral in the wet, similar to the way we played against Southcity the other week.
“Gundagai’s kicking game was really good.
“A lot of lessons came out of it for us.”
Albury’s only try came in the 35th minute when tall winger Daniel Jacobs crossed the line, but it bombed several opportunities in the second half when it threatened to challenge.
A crucial call came late when Mitch Seaton had a try disallowed.
Cale said Goodwin’s injury would be assessed in coming days.
“I’m not too sure (how serious),” he said.
“He’s pretty sore but he thinks he will be right.
“It usually takes a fair bit for him to come off though.”
Gundagai had outstanding contributors in Luff, prop Rulon Nutira and lock Mark Elphick, while Willie Heta, Andrew Cowhan and Jake Grace battled gamely for the visitors.
Luff scored 12 of the Tigers’ 16 points with two tries and two goals.
Albury and Southcity are level on 28 points with two rounds remaining, with the reigning premier having the bye in the final round.
“I just told the boys after the match that we can’t dwell on it,” Cale said.
“The effort was certainly there but the execution wasn’t.”
In other matches, Wagga Kangaroos defeated Wagga Brothers 32-10, Tumbarumba won a thriller over Tumut 29-22 and Temora edged out Junee 8-6.