Dora Creek have been bundled out of title contention by minor premiers Stockton after a slow start proved too much for the Swampies to reverse.
It’s an “emotional” end to the season for many at the club, coach Brad Clark said after the 12-16 defeat last weekend, but not one without joy as well.
Clark – who was sidelined for much of the club’s campaign with a season-ending injury – saw a handful of key moments as “crucial” to the clash, including a run of “piggy-back penalties” at the end of sets that gave Stockton the opening they needed.
Stockton took full advantage of the ‘go-ahead’ repeat sets to claim a 10 point lead by the half time break, but the slow-starting Swampies surged back into the elimination fixture thanks to a Boston Smith try, converted by Israel Smith.
Stockton answered back with another converted try of their own, to reinstate the lead to 10 points, but Dora Creek were able to halve the difference with a late try for second rower Jarhn Komene.
It doesn’t hurt as much as last year either, it’s emotional for sure, but I think we’re in a much better place than when we finished in 2017.Brad Clark
While Komene’s four pointer and the subsequent goal gave the Swampies a flicker of hope that they could deliver an upset against the minor premiers, there just wasn’t enough time on the clock to complete the comeback and Dora Creek’s 2018 campaign came to a screeching halt.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the club however, with Clark of the opinion the year had been “great for development” and had shown the team a lot of what they could work on going forward.
“It was a shame, on a personal level, that I got ruled out so early on, so I’m a bit disappointed by that, but overall I think it was a good year for us,” he said.
“While I was on the sideline I was able to see what the team needed to be doing, and we were able to adjust a lot of what we were working on.
“It doesn’t hurt as much as last year either, it’s emotional for sure, but I think we’re in a much better place than when we finished in 2017.”
Clark also confirmed he would be aiming for a return to the field in 2019 as his recovery continued.
“Yeah I’m progressing well, will return to running during the off-season and then I’ll see how I’m placed when the new year starts to come around,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting back out there.”
While the Swampies may have Clark returning in a boost for the squad, they will also have at least one major departure in the upcoming season – star fullback Mitch Kaufmann will be moving to Canada within the month, and has played his last match for the club.
It’s a major loss, Clark explained, but he said he was proud of what Kaufmann had already given to Dora Creek and the team.
“He’s been phenomenal this year, so we’re going to miss him,” Clark said. “Kaufmann was always great for us and really gave it his all when he was out on the field. It’s a big loss.”