It was an undermanned Camels team that made the trip to Bourke on Saturday for the last game of the 2016 Western Plains Rugby season and that reflected on the final score with Bourke winning 57-21.
Injury and shift work again claimed a large number of the Camels’ regular players, however those that did make the trip were keen to finish the season on a high note.
With team captain Tom Wall out with a shoulder injury, it was up to Sam Baker to lead the Camels and a season ending injury to tight-head prop Bryce Rixon saw the veteran front rower Drew Weaver boot up for a run-on spot in the team.
Also in the squad was young rookie Josh Bain-Smith.
Bourke started off fairly shaky, with the Camels holding all the possession early, however after a loose turnover and broken defence, Bourke ran 70 metres for their first try.
The Rams continued to punish the Camels’ broken defensive line for the next 25 minutes, running in five unanswered first half tries.
Although the scoreboard was not in Cobar’s favour, on the field the Camels were anything but done.
A beautiful charge-down by Steve Gillette just before halftime saw the Camels get on the score board and the try was converted by their dashing and debonair winger Jake Harbison.
The second half started with the Camels again in full attack mode, with the dominant Cobar scrum taking its toll on the Bourke team. Bourke changed out their front row five times, and finally resorted into bringing in a new front-rower.
In the true spirit of the game, the Camels front row took the time out to help instruct the rookie prop (and also backed off a bit in the scrum engagement).
The Cobar club believes it’s important for the game to develop front-rowers and hopefully for Bourke this helps them next season.
The game started to get heated, especially when the Cobar backline finally peaked and some great hands from No 10 Rob Phair put Matt Green over the chalk for the Camels’ second try.
The conversion from Bain-Smith was good.
In the final 15 minutes the Camels took control of the game and while Bourke certainly didn’t back off, there was a distinct change in the Camels’ style of play.
The improved attitude was rewarded in the final play of the day when skipper Sam Baker charged his way through three Rams defenders to score the Camels’ third try.
Baker was also given the opportunity to kick which was successful, however it was too late for the Camels with Bourke running out 57–21 winners.
Team manager Drew Weaver said 2016 had been a long and tiring season for the Camels.
“As always shift work and injury means we never put the same team on the paddock each week.
“It is a credit to the guys who have made the effort each week and also the guys who have made sacrifices and taken shifts off to play,” Weaver said.
“This commitment is recognised by the coaching team and greatly appreciated.”
With the 2016 season now over for the Camels (they missed out on making the semis), the club will now be preparing for the Mudgee 7’s tournament in early October.
“The Camels are entering two teams in the event this year, with the introduction of Women’s 7’s Rugby to the club,” Weaver announced.—contributed