Failure to convert three crucial goals, including an in-front penalty, cost the Cobar Camels a well-deserved final home-ground victory over Western Plains Rugby visitors Walgett Rams at Ailsa Fitzsimmons Memorial Oval on Saturday.
In a game of contrasting halves, the competition’s second placed Rams recorded a bruising, hard fought 20-17 win over the Camels after leading 20-nil at the break.
Camel’s coach Damian Wray congratulated his players for their determined three tries to nil second half fightback but called on the team to improve total match performance during their final away games against Bourke and Brewarrina.
Advertised as the Camel’s annual Old Boys and Sponsor’s Day, Saturday’s Round 12 clash refereed by Chris Marshall, attracted a large contingent of Cobar Rugby supporters and former stalwarts.
After surviving an early Cobar offensive featuring strong inroads by five-eight Mat Low and fullback Zac Finn, Walgett returned pressure from the scrum and lineouts.
Controlling possession and territory, the Rams then launched relentless counter attacks on the Camels’ line.
Wide-running forward Tim Robins opened the scoring for the visitors with a try in the corner. The conversion attempt was waved away but Justin Green’s penalty goal increased the Rams’ lead to 8-0.
With Walgett dominating possession, clean breaks by five-eighth Justin O’Brien and Green added additional touchdowns and the Rams went to half time with a convincing 20-0 lead.
After a rev-up from their coach the Camels however returned with determination and enterprise from both forwards and backs.
The second period then developed into 40 minutes of solid defence and relentless attack as Cobar forced play deep into Walgett’s territory.
Despite serval injuries, the Camels eventually managed to post their first points when centre Michael Tahawta charged over the Rams’ line.
Cobar captain Jamie Peters then displayed clever kick and chase skills to cross for his team’s second try but the conversion attempt also failed.
Trailing 20-10, the Camels again attacked vigorously and were rewarded with their third try by replacement Tim Drepper.
Mat Low added the vital extras but time favoured Walgett and the Rams (minus a player sinbinned) held on to win 20-17.
Best and Fairest points for the Camels were awarded to Ryan Hammond (3), Tom Waters (2), Justin Schick and Mat Low (1 each).
Waters also received the Players’ Player award.—The Magpie