The Cobar Camels travelled to Coonamble on Saturday morning for their Western Plains Rugby Round 8 clash with the Rams in cold conditions.
Travelling with an entourage of Cobar Rugby Old Boys and a Fox Sports film crew (who were shadowing the players to make a documentary about “grass roots” rugby clubs), the 22 players made the long trip to Coonamble for, what turned out to be, a highly entertaining game.
From the start, the game was dominated by bruising defence.
In an arm wrestle for the upper hand, the inexperienced Camels were put under pressure for extended periods of play with the big Coonamble backline denied by solid defence time and time again by the Camels.
Eventually the mountain of possession translated into points for Coonamble with the home side scoring a try 30 minutes into the first half.
The conversion was missed and Coonamble had a narrow 5-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Camels to make some inroads of their own with Cobar’s Matt Low scoring just before half time after sustained attack from the Camels forwards. Cobar missed the conversion and the score was locked at 5-all going into the half time break.
Camels’ coach Damian Wray rallied his troops and assured them they were well and truly in the game.
After the re-start Coonamble came out of the gates strongly and were consistently putting pressure on the Cobar line.
The Camels were matching Coonamble’s attack with equally brutal defence, but eventually the Camels’ line couldn’t withstand the pressure. A try for the Rams near the posts and the subsequent successful conversion gave them a 12-5 lead.
Following the restart Cobar went about building pressure on the Coonamble line with great play from Tom Waters and Low.
The Cobar forwards were devastating in close to the ruck with Ryan Hammond and Justin Schick dictating terms to the Coonamble defence however the Camels were still unable to find a way through.
Just as the Camels looked like turning the game around, a costly handover and a lucky bounce saw Coonamble’s winger kick from deep within his own half, and then a kick again off the ground enabled a support player to score in the corner. The conversion was missed and the score was now 17–5.
The Camels where not disheartened and went about trying to lessen the deficit but in a moment of what seemed like Déjà vu, Coonamble’s winger kicked from within his own half beating the Cobar defence to kick the ball off the ground for a teammate to score.
The conversion once again missed the uprights but the home side was looking comfortable with a 22-5 lead.
With time almost up on the clock, the Cobar players didn’t give up, putting pressure on Coonamble’s defence up until the final whistle. The game finished with Coonamble victorious 22-5.
The coaches’ points for best and fairest players for Cobar went to Justin Schick (3 points), Tom Waters (2) and a point each went to Ryan Hammond and Jamie Peters. The Players’ Player honour went to Tom Waters.
After the game coach Wray said he was happy with the way the Camels played.
“The team played with passion that saw the Cobar defence scramble and nullify many of Coonamble’s raids, whilst when we had possession we played to our game plan and had Coonamble back pedalling,” Wray said.
The Camels club secretary John Beer said the team’s commitment to training and to each other was outstanding and they had a lot to be proud of this season.
“We have a strong leadership group who have really shared their knowledge with our less experienced players and it is really starting to show on the paddock especially today, players like Brett Tristram and Sam Best really gave their all,” Beer said.
“It was great to see such a strong contingent of Old Boys make the trip over to support us and, although we didn’t get the result we were hoping for, we will learn from it and build on it.”
This Saturday the Camels take on the competition leaders, the Warren Pumas, at Warren.—contributed