The Wyong Roos missed out on the minor premiership despite their 32-point victory over a gutsy Wentworthville Magpies at Pirtek Stadium.
Wyong finished tied for first place on the competition table but were edged out by Mounties on for and against by a single point.
It was an unexpected low-scoring tight affair until the 60th minute with Wyong and Wentworthville level with 12 points each, before the Roos blew the Magpies away for the 44-12 win.
Wyong received a major pre-game boost welcoming Willie Manu, Nathan Stapleton and Chris Centrone back into the side.
The Magpies entered the match determined to salvage some pride and finish their season on a positive note. They enjoyed playing restraint-free attack without the pressure of finals football on the line but were unable to penetrate the Roos’ defence.
After applying plenty of pressure Wyong were first to score with Jono Ford the recipient of a richoted grubber for a 6-0 lead in the 14th minute.
The Roos extended their lead 12-0 as Omar Slaimankhel leapt in-between two defenders to latch onto a cross-field kick from Tyler Cornish 6 minutes from halftime.
Wyong’s first-half lead could have been greater if not for some courageous Magpies cover defence denying several tries.
Wentworthville crossed for a well-deserved try when Ryan Matterson intercepted a Mounties pass to race 75 metres and cut the deficit 12-6 before halftime.
The Magpies equalised scores in the 57th minute of the second half when Shaun Boss passed over the top for Vai Toutai who found James Tuitahi on the right sideline to score as replays showed an obvious forward pass.
There was a brief scare sent through the Wyong camp when inspirational Mitch Williams came off with a suspected concussion midway through the second half before he came back on to play a major part for the Roos.
It was all Wyong in the final 20 minutes piling on 32 points to run away with the contest.
The Roos hit the front scoring back-to-back tries with Abraham Papalii barraging his way from dummy half, before Mitch Williams placed Slaimankhel through the gap and found Cornish in support to lead 24-12 with 17 minutes left.
Wyong scored again soon after with Papalii and Cornish bagging their second tries before Stapleton joined in on the action to score and extend the lead to 38-12.
Wyong saved their best for last in one of the plays of the season as Willie Manu linked up with Papalii who threw a incredible one-handed offload flick pass back to Manu to score.
It was a fitting result for the Roos who were eliminated by Wentworthville in last year’s finals and now set up a huge clash against the Penrith Panthers in week one of the finals on Saturday.