The Cobar Roosters started off the 2022
Castlereagh Rugby League season in the
same fashion as they finished last year, in
fine form, beating the visiting Gilgandra
The Roosters’ opening round game on Saturday
afternoon in front of a home crowd at Tom
Knight Memorial Oval was a charity fundraiser
for the Royal Flying Doctor Service with the
club raising more than $30,000.
It was a warm 24 degrees when the main
game kicked off and it wasn’t until mid-way
through the second half that a cooling breeze
blowing across the field brought some relief
for the players.
Despite the Roosters leading from start to
finish, Saturday’s match was a hard fought one
with both sides guilty of numerous ball handling
In a post game interview, Roosters captain/
coach Loma Atuau admitted it had been a
“It was the first game of the season, it can
only get better from here on in,” Atuau said.
And while both teams at times had trouble
hanging on to the ball, it was the Roosters’
superior level of fitness that saw them through
to their 20 point win in the end.
“The back line worked really well together,
and that comes on the back of our forwards
going forward,” Atuau said.
“Our forward pack has always been big and
leading up front trying to dominate their forwards—
obviously everything’s going to play
off the back of that.”
And it did with the Roosters’ big, mobile
forwards scoring five of their six tries in Saturday’s
Captain/coach Atuau opened the Roosters’
account 10 minutes into the game scoring their
first points under the posts, which made for an
easy conversion for Thomas Plater to put the
Roosters up 6-0.
Gilgandra replied five minutes later with a
converted try of their own to level the scores.
Shortly after David Watson muscled his way
over for a try and Plater’s conversion gave
Cobar back the ascendency at 12-6.
A ball handling error by the Roosters from
the re-start put the Panthers within striking
distance of the try line.
Gilgandra captain Jamie Towney took advantage
and scored out wide and, with an unsuccessful
conversion, the margin was now
12-10. With both teams looking dangerous each
time they hit their respective try lines, it was
the Panthers who looked set to score next in
another attacking raid.
An intercept by Roosters handy centre, Tim
Hillam, thwarted that attempt and possession
was returned to the Roosters.
Shortly after they improved their lead when
Atuau scored his second try.
Atuau’s powerful run through multiple Gilgandra
defenders saw him again score under
Another easy conversion for Plater on the
half time siren had Cobar to go to the break
with an 18-10 lead.
The Roosters got off to a poor start in the
second half immediately handing the Panthers
possession after the ball was dropped.
After more errors, the Roosters spent two
more sets defending before the referee’s whistle
started blowing in their favour.
Rooters’ halfback (and the 2021 Castlereagh
Player of the Year), Plater made the most of
the retreating disheveled Panthers defence and
looked to go right.
The defence went with him but Plater quickly
weaved back left to score next to the posts.
His successful conversion, his 4th for the
game, put the Roosters ahead 24-10.
Gilgandra narrowed the gap to 24-14 soon
after when Towney scored his second try of
the game after pouncing on a grubber kick
over the line.
Possession see-sawed with penalties and
errors and the Panthers were again knocking
on the door on the Roosters’ line however they
did not penetrate.
Cobar looked like scoring again after a
breakaway run by winger Ben Griffiths, who
was caught 20 metres out. Plater looked like
sensationally finishing off Griffths’ effort with
a try however referee Ben Trudgett ruled it a
With 10 minutes left to play and Gilgrandra’s
fitness waning, Gerald Mackay pushed over
for the Roosters and gave Plater another easy
conversion in front.
Taking advantage of two Panthers players
tending to cramps, Watson scored his second
try in the dying stages of the match.
Hitting the line, he looked to his wing but
decided the easiest option was to score himself.
Plater’s final attempt at goal, his first from
out wide, was the only one he missed in the
game and Cobar finished with a 34-14 win.
Atuau and Hillam shared the referee’s Best
& Fairest points in the game along with Gilgandra’s
Cobar Best & Fairest points went to Jed
Noonan, Plater and Zane Taylor.
The Cobar Roosters will have a bye for
Round 2 this week with the Binnaway club not
able to field a First Grade side this season.
The Coonabarabran Unicorns will also not be
fielding a First Grade team this season which
will leave eight teams in the 2022 competition.
The Cobar Roosters started off the 2022