25 August, 2020
Christie and Hood Castlereagh League competition heats up at Cobar
The battle for glory in the 2020 Christie and Hood Castlereagh League competition is starting to heat up after the Gilgandra Panthers and the Cobar Roosters played out an exciting 16 all draw at Tom Knight Oval in front of a large Cobar crowd on Saturday, August 22.
The Panthers were expecting a tough match on the road and they got what they expected with the Roosters boasting a big, mobile pack of forwards and a classy backline led by their fullback, Tim Hillam.
In fact it was Hillam who opened the scoring for the home side 10 minutes into the match when, after a series of penalties against the Panthers, he chimed into a backline movement to split the Panther defence and score out wide. It was tough going for both sides in the cold, windy conditions and it took the Panthers thirty minutes to get any points on the board when Gilgandra’s best, Alex Ronayne crossed out wide. Luke Ritchie nailed the conversion to have the Panthers in front 6-4 as half-time approached.
However, the Panthers were costing themselves ground giving away too many penalties and with only three minutes left on the clock, Cobar centre, Nathan McAndrew touched down in the corner to regain the lead for the Roosters. Dave Watson nailed the sideline conversion and the Roosters went to the break leading 10-6. The Panthers hit back straight after halftime when Jamie Towney went from dummy half close to the Cobar line and used all his strength to break through the defence to score next to the sticks. Ritchie gave the Panthers the lead with his conversion. 12-10 to the Panthers.
Cobar were going nowhere though and on the back of some more penalties from the Panthers they made their way downfield and with 30 minutes to play it was their big second rower, Sione Fakahua who broke the Panther line to cross out wide. James Neyland converted his sideline attempt to have the Roosters back in front 16-12. The Panthers were their own worst enemies continually giving advice to the referee and costing themselves valuable territory and making hard work of it and frustrating the Panther followers who made the trip.
They did have some fortune go their way. At 20 minutes remaining, they forced a mistake and two tackles after a scrum win, Jamie Towney was on the end of a Luke Ritchie pass and was able to cross out wide for the Panthers and level the score at 16-16. The conversion attempt was waived away. Both sides slogged it out for the next 20 minutes before it was called a draw when the final hooter sounded. It was probably a fitting result with both sides walking away with a point each and the knowledge that they will most probably meet again somewhere at the big end of the season.
The Panthers were again led from the front by their captain/coach, Ashley Hazelton while the second-row pairing of Jordan Reynolds and Alex Ronayne were great in both attack and defence. A highlight for the Panthers was the first grade debut of Kyle Welsh who after leading the way for his Youth League side, was given the chance to lace up and come off the bench and mix it with one of the toughest sides in the comp.
The Pinkies went into their match having won over the Cobar Hens in their round one match. It looked as if they were going to come away with the chocolates again when they took a 22-10 lead to the break with Cassie Nolan being outstanding for the Pinkies with two tries in the opening stanza. Emily Fardell opened the scoring for the Pinkies and Larissa Kennedy also got on the scoresheet when she touched down in the opening half.
Shian Chatfield converted three of the tries to give the Pinkies a healthy lead at the break. They lost their way in the second half to let the Roosterettes back into the match with two early second half tries. Cobar then hit the lead for the first time with 10 minutes remaining 24-22 but with only six minutes left the Pinkies were awarded a penalty and Talitha Chatfield crossed out wide for the Pinkies to give them back the lead.
They could not hold back the Cobar surge however, and with only two minutes left on the clock the Cobar girls made the most of a Pinky mistake to claim victory with a converted try out wide. Full-time 30-26 to Cobar. The young Panther Youth League side also went into their match against the bantam Roosters full of confidence after their round one clash. It was the Roosters who opened the scoring, running out to a 12- 0 lead early before the Panthers woke from their bus trip and captain, Kyle Welsh planted the ball down next to the posts for Kyjaun Crawford to convert and have the scoreboard ticking for the Gilgandra team.
The Panthers were able to find some flare in their attack. With only five minutes left in the first half, it was Welsh who once again showed his strength to cross for the line for an unconverted try. They were back into the match, going to oranges down only 12-10.
Disaster struck just as the hooter sounded and Cobar crossed for their third try to extend their lead to 18-10. The half-time break didn’t do the Panther cubs any favours and it was all Cobar in the second-half, aided by a huge amount of possession and some ill-discipline from the Panthers. It was one-way traffic and the Cobar boys piled on the points for a well-deserved victory making it 48-10 as the final hooter sounded.