Pat's hang on for draw
The blue and whites had Terry Crane sent off five minutes into the second half following a difference of opinion between the sides. Players ran from across the field after the Dragons objected to a tackle on captain-coach Matt Stott after he got a kick away.
Stott went on to put his team six in front with 15 minutes left and Pat’s could have been forgiven for thinking a comeback was too hard, but they continued to dig deep and Tom Clyburn found a gap 30 metres out from the line and sprinted to score near the posts, making the conversion easy for Joey Coughlan.
Both teams looked to break the deadlock in the final few minutes but had to settle for the draw and a share of the points.
Stott wasn’t too disappointed to come away with a draw and he was impressed with the effort from Pat’s.
“In one way it’s a missed opportunity but in another way, 18-all in grubby conditions and a point away from home isn’t a bad outcome,” the captain-coach said.
“Sometimes having a player sent off and with such a vocal crowd behind them can lift a team. Full credit to Pat’s, they’ve got a lot of footy in them and they’ve come a long way.”
Front rowers opened the scoring for both teams. Late call up Akoroa Akoroa got over the line first for Mudgee, before in-form prop Zac Merritt showed good footwork to dive over for the home side.
Dragons second rower Chris Ward went over for a four-pointer seven minutes out from half-time to give the visitors a 12-6 lead, but it didn’t last long.
St Pat’s worked their way downfield and were given a penalty 20 metres out from the Dragons line. Jeremy Gordon had an easy stroll down the right hand side of the field to get the try.
Crane slotted the goal to lock the scores at 12-all at half-time.
Pat’s were in a strong position to score early in the second half but Tim Holman lost his footing with an open line in front of him and the Dragons were able to hold them out.
It was the following set that saw tempers flare and Crane marched from the field, leaving St Pat’s at a numerical disadvantage.
They showed plenty of courage to match the Dragons but, with 15 minutes left in the game, they hurt themselves by conceding a penalty and then getting marched a further 10 for backchat.
Mudgee made the most of the field position, Stott going over himself and adding the extras for an 18-12 advantage.
Tom Clyburn showed good vision to find a gap from a scrum and run 40 metres to score and Joey Coughlan again locked the scores.
Pat’s had the last roll of the dice, earning a set 30 out from the Dragons line and with 30 seconds left on the clock, but a field goal attempt from Holman was miscued and it rolled harmlessly along the ground to be wrapped up by a Dragons player.
Pat’s coach Mick Armstrong was pleased to see his team hang on for split points under the circumstances.
“We played well and stuck it out. We had a lot of things go against us in the game but I’m just happy we were able to tough it out and get away with a draw,” he said.
“We lost one man and only had two on the bench after losing a couple early. Luke Single went down in the first minute of the game and he didn’t go back on. To play with 12 men and a short bench, I’m happy with a point.
“The referees know the rules and they have to police them. I don’t want to say more than that.”