The Mudgee Wombats have narrowly missed out on making another appearance in this year's New Holland Agriculture Cup season, with CSU booking the grand final ticket.
Inspired defence from the students, in particular along the edges, and another hat-trick for centre Regan Hughes were the highlights in CSU's 32-29 success at University Oval in Saturday's preliminary final.
It was a huge mental hurdle for the hosts to clear after they fell at the preliminary final stage last season, but it the batties didn't make it an easy victory.
"They really pegged us back there towards the end. If we made an error close to the line we were always in big trouble against their scrums," CSU coach David Conyers said.
"All their tries were scored off scrums or mauls. They weren't scoring anything around us at all. Our backline defence was really strong.
The clubs exchanged early points as Hughes and Mudgee's David Jessiman scored what would be the first of their three respective tries.
Jack Keppel landed an early field goal attempt in just the 10th minute and it would ultimately prove the point of difference at the full-time whistle.
Aden Macdougall's converted try pushed the score out to 15-5 in the hosts favour although Mudgee were quick to respond through Tom Dudek.
Five minutes before the break Glen Pollard found himself in space down the right wing and bolted home to make it 20-10 at half-time.
Hughes found try number two just a matter of minutes into the new term as CSU threatened to run away with it.
Mudgee quelled that idea through a Tom O'Leary try.
The end-to-end nature continued when, again, Hughes and Jessiman scored tries in close succession.
Wombats, as they did in last month's 24-19 result, forced the students to work overtime in defence thanks to their dominance in set pieces.
CSU's defence stepped up in the clutch and limited Jessiman to a consolation try after the full-time siren.
"It was a tough game but at critical points in the game we piggy backed them out of their own half with penalties which relieved the pressure we had built up," Mudgee's captain Tom Dunstan said.
It's never fun losing a final and being so close definitely makes it harder to swallow, there was plenty of emotion in the change room afterwards so looking forward to going further again next year.Mudgee Wombats first grade captain, Tom Dunstan
"Our scrum was dominant through out the game and our running over the advantage line was as good as it's been all year."
Mudgee's are still in with a shot of claiming a grand final with second grade going head to head with Narromine next weekend.
"The season isn't done yet second grade are carrying the Mudgee flag high and will do us proud next week," Dunstan said.
- CSU 32 (Regan Hughes 3, Glen Pollard, Aden Macdougall tries; Jack Keppel 2 conversions) defeated MUDGEE WOMBATS 29 (Dave Jessiman 3, Tom O'Leary, Thomas Dudek tries; Brian O'Reilly 2 conversions)