PORT Macquarie stormed home, but fell just short in a 6-5 mixed opens semi-final loss to Melbourne City Lions on Sunday which ended the Makos 2017 NSW State Cup campaign.
The Makos trailed 3-1 midway through the game before Anna Lewis appeared to score in the corner, but the final pass was ruled forward.
The Lions took full advantage of the close call to score another two tries of their own to race out to a 5-1 lead and the game appeared as good as over.
Port Macquarie fought back and closed to within one try of drawing level with 30 seconds remaining, but ran out of time.
Captain Aaron Ison said it was a marked improvement on their 2016 NSW State Cup campaign, when they didn’t progress out of the group stages.
“We fell just short which was disappointing, but we didn’t give up.”Port Macquarie mixed opens captain Aaron Ison
“We didn’t start real good today, but finished really well and there were some positives to come out of the back end of the game,” he said.
“We fell just short which was disappointing, but we didn’t give up.”
Despite trailing by the four-try margin with seven minutes remaining, Ison felt his team were still in the match.
“We didn’t play that great and we never felt like the game was gone, but it went right to the end,” he said.
“They drove well and got us on the back foot a fair bit and us beating them yesterday probably spurred them on today.”
The semi-final defeat gives the Makos mixed opens a top four finish in the state.
While Ison was happy to have made it to within one game of a decider, there was still disappointment.
“Top four is good, but it would have been better to be in a grand final,” he said.
“We did improve on last year’s performance; we underachieved last year, but this year we got a semi-final berth.”
He was satisfied with the decision on the pass to Lewis.
“It was pretty flat, but I think it was a fair decision,” he said.
“Top four is good, but it would have been better to be in a grand final."Aaron Ison
“We were close, but not quite close enough.
“We’ll have a few months off now and start to think about next year.”
The Makos qualified for the final with a 7-6 win over Port Hunter in their quarter-final.
Ison admitted there was a rivalry beginning to be created with the Marauders.
Port Macquarie defeated them to claim the country championships six weeks ago.
“There’s a friendly rivalry with them so it’s always good to get a win over them,” Ison said.
“It’s usually 50-50 when we play them.”
In total, Port Macquarie’s mixed opens team played eight games in three days, registering six wins and two losses.
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