With the Cobar & District Rugby Union Club planning to hold a reunion later this month for players who participated in the 1976 and 1996 premiership winning sides, The Cobar Weekly this week recaps the 1976 game from The Cobar Age report published September 8, 1976.
The Western Plains Rugby Union grand final was played at Warren, between Walgett and minor premiers Cobar, before a large crowd.
The Cobar team was: Dick Houghton, Chris Elder, Roger Shanahan, Paul Reid, Derek Carter, Greg Prince, Bernard Warner, Dennis Forbes, Kevin Mitchell, John Haskell, Ted Middleton, Peter Masters (captain), Kel Ellicott, Will Brown, Bill Cahill and Bill Collins.
Cobar won the toss and Masters elected to go against the wind in the first half.
Walgett kicked off and the first ruck was an indication of what was to come as both packs struggled for possession.
Cobar emerged with the ball and Prince kicked for the line and found touch.
From the lineout Walgett put the ball in the air and kept the Cobar backs under pressure.
Shanahan made an attempt at a field goal which went astray. Shortly after the Cobar backs tried a move but Walgett’s solid defence upset the plan.
From a ruck well inside Walgett territory the ball went out to the backline from Shanahan to Houghton, whose kick was charged down by Walgett who raced to the line, however Warner’s try saving tackle from behind prevented them from scoring.
Walgett applied pressure but could not crack Cobar’s good defence. A penalty let Cobar off the hook and Prince’s kick gained good ground. From the scrum the Cobar forwards pushed Walgett pack 15 yards and this was the turning point in the game.
Forbes won a good line-out and the ball flew along the backline to Shanahan who was tackled over the line but the ball was jarred from his grasp in a solid tackle so no try resulted.
A good backline move saw Reid, Carter and Elder with a good run finishing close to the Walgett line before being bundled into touch.
Cobar continued to attack and Prince put up an up-and-under kick which hit the posts and Carter, racing through, kicked the ball over the line and won the race for the ball for the first try of the match.
Prince failed with the kick at goal.
Cobar began to apply the pressure relentlessly with their forward pack dominating practically all phases of play. Prince had another penalty attempt but again failed.
Just on half time Walgett’s attempt at a penalty also failed and Cobar led 4-0 at the break.
With Mitchell and Haskell and the Cobar backs moving up quickly, they had the Walgett backs flustered and making errors.
Cobar’s forwards, led by Masters, in a fine performance, had the Walgett forwards backpedaling. He was ably assisted by Ellicott and Middleton, especially in tight play. Brown also had a great game with good defence and cover.
From the resumption Cobar had a long kick-off to apply pressure on Walgett and a five yards scrum base resulted. From a kick Forbes gathered from the base of the scrum, he barged his way over for the second try for an 8-0 lead.
Prince failed with the goal attempt.
This try put Walgett under much more pressure as the dominating Cobar pack were not to be outdone with Cahill wining the ball from a tight scrum enabling Cobar to keep up the pressure.
Walgett countered and from a line-out and charged through but Elder gathered to save a certain try.
With the crowd behind Cobar and voicing plenty of support, they kept the pressure on Walgett and were beating the Walgett pack to all the break downs.
Collins and a Walgett player were ordered from the field by the referee for an infringement.
Cobar then kept the ball up the Walgett end of the ground.
With 10 minutes to go, Prince was injured and Warner kept the play away from him with good tactics.
The score of 8-0 remained for Cobar to claim the 1976 premiership title.