The Cobar Camels are showing all the signs of being a first class rugby team however in their Western Plains match on Saturday, they finished second best.
Despite the Cobar side demonstrating some brilliant phases of play in their game against Coonamble at Ailsa Fitzsimmons Memorial Oval, they were beaten 35-24.
The Camels strength and conditioning coach John Barnes said it was one of the better running games the Camels have played over the last couple of seasons.
“The interaction between the forwards and the backline is finally starting to show in the way the game was played,” he said.
Barnes said in the first half the Camels fell into the trap of playing Coonamble’s game of drive and maul and didn’t spread the ball to their backline.
“Coonamble took note of the Camels’ fitness and played a game where the forwards soften the opposition as they were a large pack in weight and height.
“They kicked the ball behind the Camels’ backline to force them to turn around and start an attack from deep inside their own territory,” he said.
Travis Dunlevy pushed over for a try to put Cobar on the board early in the first half, however it would be a long wait until the Camels penetrated the Coonamble defence, but when they did, the flood gates opened.
Down 21-5 at half time, the Camels played an exciting second half to come within nine points of the visitors.
Barnes said positional changes in the second half paid off.
“The Camels started to play a running game by spreading the ball between the backline and forwards which lead to three tries including a brilliant team try started by Travis Dunlevy out of their own 22 metre line and rounded off by Wade Potter under the uprights.”
After good lead up work from the Camels’ Forwards midway through the second half, Loma Atuau, Tommy Wihongi and Potter all crossed in quick succession with Tom Wall kicking two goals.
The Camels however ran out of time and Coonamble walked away with the 35-24 win.
The Camels’ best and fairest points were earned by Wihongi (three points), Sam Baker (2) and Bryce Rixon (1).
A comment heard on the day was the Camels were actually playing the best rugby but it was unfortunate they didn’t play the first half the way they play the second as it most certainly would have ended in a different score.
“The Camels forwards pack praised their backline for the way they played a running game and said it is the first season that the forwards can rely on their backline to have an effect on a game, as in past seasons, it was left to the forwards to win games.”
Barnes said the team can however hold their heads high as they had greatly improved from their 59-17 loss to Coonamble in the first round and Coonamble are currently the competition leaders.
“We are in a building phase and with the group of players that are currently committed to the club, a bright and positive 2017 is on the horizon,” Barnes said.