Down to the wire with half a minute to go, the Cobar Roosters scored a match-winning try to down the Collarenebri Bulldogs at home on Saturday.
It was a hard-fought, maiden match between the proud far west clubs, with neither side knowing what to expect.
The Dogs were eager to take the field after having a week off while the Roosters were just as keen to make a statement coming off the back of a draw in their previous derby against Bourke.
Colly started strong with some aggressive defence while the Roosters had to “weather the storm”.
Collarenebri’s big men were aiming up in the middle, setting the platform for the backs to play off but were dealt a blow in the first 10 minutes with starting front-rower Ben McQuillum replaced through injury.
With only two on the bench to start, Colly was going to have to dig deep.
Both teams defended gamely but a few one-on-one missed tackles gave the opposition the opportunity to put points on the board.
It was anyone’s game leading into half time.
Colly took to the field in the second half with no reserves and would require a gutsy performance to go set-for-set with the Roosters.
The two teams traded attacking sets and matched each other on the scoreboard.
The Dogs received a penalty within the last minute of play but the kick failed to make touch. The Roosters counter attacked, with the game on the line, and after a couple of plays, scored and stole the match 26-22.
Cobar’s try scorers were Jesse Hamilton (2), Mathew Shepherd, Ben Simon and Tim Hillman with Kody Martin kicking three goals.
Collarenebri coach, Chris Kirkland said it was rough on the boys losing so late in the game but believed it was a definite gauge for the team after welcoming Cobar from the Group 11 competition.
Roosters’ coach Ben Simon said the move had revitalised the club.
The Roosters hadn’t won a Group 11 competition in 10 years and crowds and support were dwindling. Now competitive again, it has brought the club and community back together.
He said ‘Old Boys’ are reconnecting and the community wants to get involved.
Cobar has the bye this week.—contributed