The Tenterfield Bumblebees are bound for the semi-finals of the Far North Coast President’s Cup in their first year of competition.
The Bees came agonisingly close to knocking off minor premiers Evans River in their last game of the regular season on Saturday.
Playing at Federation Park for the last time this year, the Bees were beaten 27-17.
Coach Phil Jones said his team were slow to start but dominated the second-half and, had they capitalised on opportunities, could have taken out the game.
“We had them on the ropes but we just couldn't convert that pressure into points again,” he said.
“A few little basic mistakes, a couple of knock ons, we had a disallowed try from a forward pass so you put all that in there, we could have been two tries up on them.
“The best game we have played all season, a very physical game.
“We certainly matched them in the forwards and I thought our backs were a little bit stronger than their backs.
“Every time we touched the ball we made ground.”
The Bees play Kyogle for the minor semi-final this Saturday.
“We have beaten them twice this year,” Jones said.
“They will be very strong, they are one of the more physical sides to play, they are a bit like us.
“They are nothing spectacular to watch but are a pretty hard side.
“We just have to play our game and get those one percenters right, win all our set plays and tackle.”
The Bees have strength in their outside backs and Jones said they need to do the hard yards to allow the speedsters to do their job.
“We have a pretty good backline,” he said.
“If we can give them good quality ball then we will give it a bit of a shake.”
In their first year, the Bees have excelled in reaching the semi-finals but Jones won’t be satisfied with just making an appearance at the pointy end of the season.
He wants to make an impact.
“We just have to produce the goods on the day but all-in-all making the semis in our first year is an achievement but we are not done yet,” he said.
“We have improved every game and hopefully we just keep that momentum going in the semis.
“For the first year we have done really well.”
Numbers have been strong for the Bees but they may be without a couple of their stars against Kyogle.
“My five-eighth just got a job in Brisbane so he will miss training but he thinks he is going to come back,” Jones said.
“Josh Lucas I am hoping to qualify.
“I think I have got enough games for him. He played a few for us during the season and he is a class act.”