The excitement and anticipation had been building for months among the local rugby fraternity for the Cobar club’s Western Plains Rugby ‘Reunion’ match against Gulargambone on Saturday.
Players that beat Gulargambone 20 years ago in the 1996 grand final (along with members of the Cobar team that defeated Walgett in the 1976 grand final) assembled at Ailsa Fitzsimmons Memorial Oval on Saturday to cheer on the current crop of Camels in their game against the visiting Gulargambone team.
Despite the final score of 36-19 in Gulargambone’s favour, spectators declared it had been a good game to watch, that was however after the Camels kicked into action.
Camels’ strength and conditioning coach John Barnes said it took about 20 minutes for the Cobar side to make any real impact in Saturday’s match.
“The game started off with a clear indication that Gular was going to play a fast running game in the backline with quick pick and drive,” Barnes said.
He said Gular’s heavy forward pack also man-for-man outweighed the Camels team.
“The Camels defence was lacking in commitment at the start of the game and it created the impression that although they were on the playing field, their minds were somewhere else,” Barnes said.
“Gular scored with in the first three minutes of the game and then another try within 10 minutes. After 20 minutes the Camels were behind on the scoreboard by 21 points, which must have struck home that if they do not start to play it was going to be a one sided game of defending the score board.”
Barnes said it was then that it became a good game to watch.
“Many of the spectators mentioned to me after the game that it is one of the best games they saw over the last couple of seasons.”
He said it was a good running game with some outstanding forward and backline combination play from both sides.
Camels’ Halfback Clay Neale had a brilliant first half delivering quick balls to the backline and his tactical kicking was pin pointed.
“The Camels’ line-outs had a 100 per cent improvement from the previous week, and the scrums were dominated by the Camels team.
“During halftime break the only message to the team was to pick up the intensity of the game which they did,” Barnes said.
With 10 minutes left to play the Camels only trailed 26-19.
“The feeling was there that the Camels could win the game and the spectators proved it with their support and cheered them along.”
Barnes said Gular however made the most of a Camels defensive error and scored a try that took the game beyond the Camels’ reach.
“It is not all doom and gloom for the Camels as they once again proved that when they are switched on to play as a team they are capable of winning games but this means 80 minutes and not 60 minutes,” Barnes said.