The Eden Tigers’ reserve grade side have suffered their first loss of the 2014 campaign, going down 18-14 in a hard-fought battle with the Candelo-Bemboka Panthers.
The Tigers had easily accounted for the same opposition with a 40-6 thrashing in round 5, but the Panthers exacted revenge by playing a physical game at the George Brown Memorial Oval on Sunday.
A late try to fullback Morgan Stewart had put the Tigers back in the hunt, but a spirited Panthers’ outfit held on to take the spoils and knock the home side out of the winner’s circle for the first time this year.
Playing-coach Alan Aldridge said the Tigers went away from what they do best.
“We just played their style of footy,” Aldridge said.
“They have more of a bash and barge type game, trying to get over the top of our forwards, and we like to throw the ball around and attack.
“We didn’t play our own game.”
It had been a bright start for the Tigers, with Tyrone Thomas crossing for the opening try after just five minutes.
Second-rower Jory Taylor replied for Candelo-Bemboka, before halfback Luke Mcpaul put his side into the lead with a try in the 24th minute.
Both were converted by Taylor, sending the Panthers into the sheds with a 12-6 advantage.
Eden narrowed the margin almost immediately upon the resumption, with Stewart crossing the stripe.
But the Panthers again answered, and a converted try to lock Bobby Taylor gave them an eight-point lead.
There was a spark of hope for the Tigers when Stewart jagged his second four-pointer with eight minutes remaining, but it wasn’t to be as the Panthers held on to bring themselves to within two points of the competition lead.
Aldridge said while the result was disappointing, having a loss in the lead-up to the finals may prove to be a good thing.
“We can recover from it, and we’ll know what we have to do better next time we play them, or when we play any other team.
“Hopefully everyone turns up to training and works hard so that we’re ready for the finals.”
Fresh from a tough encounter against the second-placed Panthers, the Tigers’ reserves will head up the Princes Highway to Moruya to face the third-ranked Sharks next up.
Kick-off is at 1pm at Ack Weyman Oval on Sunday.