The Cobar Roosters went into Sunday’s Barwon Darling rugby league grand final as the underdogs and emerged battered and beaten after the Walgett Dragons pounded them into submission, winning the very physical match 42-22.
The game was a rough and one that at times got spiteful with two Walgett players and one from the Roosters spending time in the sin bin.
Walgett’s strong-arm style of play was evident from the start and it paid big dividends when they opened their account with an early converted try to lead 6-0 after just four minutes of play.
Their enthusiasm for a win was evident from the outset and that was the way the Dragons played for the full 80 minutes.
The Roosters in comparison, had to play catch-up footy all game and were constantly forced to re-adjust their game plan.
During the second half three Cobar players were carried from the field with injuries from Walgett tackles, two of which incurred penalties.
The Cobar backline was however working well in the first half with Jacob Good crossing early and Cobar trailed 4-6 after 10 minutes.
In comparison to Cobar, Walgett had a bigger, thicker pack that soon started to tire due to a lack of fitness, but through their enthusiasm they still held the upper hand and made the most of every gap in the Roosters’ defence.
Walgett looked set to score again but their effort was thwarted by a try-saving tackle from Roosters’ fullback Rob Childs.
Childs was called upon again shortly after and prevented another Dragons’ attacking raid on their line.
The ball was then quickly spread to the other side of the field and Cobar’s second rower Tim Hillman, who was a workhorse in Sunday’s game, prevented the Dragons from adding to their tally.
A ball handling error by Cobar shortly after forced a turnover and Walgett pounced and sent it to the wing with Good unable to defend three Walgett players looking to score.
From the re-start Walgett was back attacking their line and a converted try gave them a very comfortable 20-4 lead at half time.
Walgett scored immediately after the re-start and looked to be in a hurry to start their grand final celebrations.
A penalty gave Cobar good field position and a planned move which saw Roosters coach Ben Simon cross for a try which Childs easily converted, gave the Roosters some confidence that they were still in the match.
The try however fired up the Dragons and they brought out the big hits with Good taken from the field after a deliberate shoulder charge.
The culprit was sin-binned for the offence.
The game got heated and when Roosters’ David Watson retaliated with his own tough tackle, he too was sent for a sin bin spell.
With both teams down a player, Walgett moved the ball around well and easily crossed for two more tries as Cobar scrambled in defence.
Perseverance on the line paid off for the Roosters with a push over try to Rohan Lloyd that closed the gap to 32-14.
Walgett added another to their tally and Simon replied soon after.
The Dragons however maintained their ‘invincible’ attitude and ran in another try.
They were now in party mode with the Walgett try-scorer following up his try with a backflip and their goal kicker paused for a photo with the ball boy.
Late in the game Jarred Davey was given a “Welcome to Barwon Darling Cup boys” slam down tackle.
The Cobar trainers were a long time attending to him before they helped him off the field.
(It was later determined he had broken ribs.)
Just before full time Mason Garland, who’d been given no room to move earlier in the match, scored a consolation try for the Roosters with Childs’ conversion coming after the hooter. Walgett finished with a 42-22 victory.