Via Newsie

Devastated. Heartbroken. Determined.

Three words that summed up the feeling in the Ashburton Barbarians camp following their 46-34 loss to the Woolston Rams in their Canterbury Rugby League division one sudden death preliminary final in Ashburton on Saturday.

It was the first loss they’d suffered at home all season, and they were devastated and heartbroken to have fallen short of their first ever final, but at the same time they were determined that they’d be back next year as strong as ever and make amends.

Ashburton Barbarians spokesperson Matt Milne said that Woolston came to Ashburton with a plan on Saturday, and it worked.

“We scored first, and then Woolston dominated the game and they went to half-time with quite a big lead,” Milne said.

“Then they struck first in the first few minutes of the second half but the boys just got stuck in and they crawled back to within four points.

“Then Woolston scored off a short kick-off and managed to score another one on full-time which sort of blew the score out.”

Woolston would now go on to play the Burnham Chevaliers in the final.

“Burnham and Woolston are just two classy sides that have been up there for years and they know how to play finals football, and we were just starved of possession,” Milne said.

“The funny thing was, when we got possession we would score.

“Woolston came with a game plan and they just executed it, and it was a good lesson for the boys about finals footy.

“We’ll take a look at the positives and what we can improve on, as we have all year, and we’ll have our end of season review and set some goals.

“The boys, as of Saturday, they were talking about all the positives and while it was a disappointing way to end, the positives far outweighed the result of that game.”

Milne said one of the turning points of the season had been an unexpected three-week break.

Four teams pulled out of the competition during the season, which made it disjointed at times, and the Barbarians’ three-week break came at a less than ideal time, with players wanting to get back out on the field on return from injuries.

They’d been playing well up until that point, but struggled to get back into their rhythm fully afterwards.

While one shot at silverware had now gone, there was still one more opportunity for the Barbarians this season, with the Aoraki competition kicking off in a few weeks.

Four teams – the Ashburton Barbarians, the Chertsey Oilers and two Timaru sides, the Outlaws and the Cowboys – would fight it out for that title, and after making the final against the Cowboys last year, and the Barbarians were determined to take it out this season.

Milne said the support the Barbarians had received all season had been fantastic, with more than 300 turning out to Saturday’s game, and they were determined to build on what had been a great year.

“There’s an opportunity for us to create a dynasty here and really just dominate this competition.

“They are the most talented side I have ever been involved with, just the individual ability, and how they come together as a team,” Milne said.

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