The Cobar Camels were very impressive in their 14-12 win over the Walgett Rams on Saturday in Round 9 of the 2019 Western Plains Rugby Union competition.
There was a good crowd on hand to witness Cobar’s second win of the season at the Face Contracting-sponsored match at Ailsa Fitzsimmons Memorial Oval.
Camels player/coach Stephen Gillette said they had expected Walgett, who are sitting just outside of the top four in the Western Plains competition, to travel with a strong team and Cobar knew they would be in for a hard game.
For a change on Saturday, Gillette had his pick of players for the run-on side and a full bench, which has been a rare sight for the Camels this season.
Gillette said he was thrilled to be able to field a strong side for Saturday’s game and also the luxury of being able to rest a few players for the big games coming up.
The Camels took the lead from the outset and Saturday’s game was only about 15 minutes old when Travis Schintler scored Cobar’s first points out wide with a try in the corner to go up 5-0.
Cobar dominated the rucks with Walgett not able to match them in size and strength.
The Camels had plenty of possession in the first half and Walgett spent all of their time repelling the Camels’ attacking raids on their line.
A penalty on such an occasion helped to extend Cobar’s lead with Tom McKenna’s kick in front putting Cobar ahead 8-0.
It was 30 minutes into the match before Walgett got the ball out of their half and they could attack the Camels’ line but Cobar’s defence remained strong and Cobar was soon back on the attack.
A frustrated Walgett side once again conceded a penalty while defending their line and McKenna’s penalty kick was an easy conversion to put the Camels ahead 11-0.
McKenna’s kicks in play also put the Camels in a great attacking position on numerous occasions throughout the match.
When they shifted the ball wide to the edges, Walgett looked dangerous and they managed to cross for a try just before half time to narrow the margin to 11-5 at the break.
Gillette said the Camels’ spirits were high at their halftime talk, however they knew it was going to be a big second half as they ran into a stiff breeze.
A number of injuries were sustained in the second half, including one to the Camels captain Jamie Peters, who had been playing well and leading from the front, and so it was left up to the bench players to bring home the game.
A lot of pressure came from Walgett throughout the second half however they conceded another vital penalty in front of goal which Schintler converted to put Cobar 14-5 ahead.
Lomu Ataua, playing in the No 10 jersey for the Camels, was impressive and controlled the game.
Ataua took very good options on each occasion presented to him—he ran the ball when he needed to run; kicked when he needed to kick; and passed when he needed to pass.
Following sustained pressure in their half, Walgett finally broke through to score and narrowed the margin to just two points the difference with seven minutes left on the clock.
The Camels held out more of Walgett’s attacking raids with very solid defence, which was a highlight of Saturday’s game, and they held on to claim a thrilling 14-12 win.
Cobar’s Best and Fairest points went to Netava Tagi (3), Tyson Swift (2) with Tommy Wihongi and Jamie Peters earning one point each.
The Camels’ Players’ Player was a new recruit, Alipate ‘Junior’ Gonerogo who had plenty of strong runs throughout the match.