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5 September, 2020

Coonamble upsets Panthers

The Christie and Hood Castlereagh League competition has been thrown wide open after the Coonamble Bears produced their best game of the season to down the Panthers at Bear Park on Saturday.

By Supplied

While the Panthers went into Saturday's match undefeated all season, the Bears were still searching for their first victory. They certainly did produce a strong side in front of their home crowd in the John Café Grandstand. With a strong wind at their backs in the first half the Panthers went close to scoring early when Josh Nixon sent Mitch Bamblett on his way to the line, only to be called back for a forward pass. 

The Panthers were enjoying a mountain of possession in the opening half, but the Bears were equal to the task with their strong defence repelling every Panther raid on their line. After 15 minutes of defending their own line the Bears finally found themselves deep in Panther territory. Josh Cock charged at the Panther defence only to be held up before the ball was swung wide to Troy Evans who crashed through to put first points on the board. From that point on, the Bears weren’t troubled in the match. 

It took until just before half-time for the Panthers to get on the scoreboard, when one of their best, Jordan Reynolds, powered through the Bears’ defence to touch down and the teams went to oranges locked up at 4-4. The Bears maintained their rage early in the second half and Jake Fernando extended their lead with a penalty goal, before Evans crossed next to the posts for his second try for the day. Fernando converted and the Bears led 12-4 with an eight-point lead. 

The Panthers were their own worst enemy with little respect for possession, and it took another 15 minutes before they could finally crack the Bear defence when Jamie Towney forced his way over from close range. Brandon Hammond converted and closed the gap to just two points but soon after, on the back of two penalties, the Bears were in again when Matt Sheather crossed out wide to make it 16 – 10 to the Bears. 

The Panthers threw everything they had at the Coonamble defence and after Ash Hazelton was held up with 15 minutes left on the clock, the ball found Luke Ritchie who crossed next to the sticks. DJ Smith converted to lock the scores up but soon after the Panthers failed to gather in a Coonamble bomb and Damien Cleary crossed in the corner. Bear Cody Tickle converted from the sideline and just before the full-time siren he posted another two points after a penalty was awarded to hand a well-deserved victory to Coonamble. With only two rounds remaining the win to the Bears and the loss for Gilgandra has opened the race for semi-final spots. 

The Panthers and Cobar are holding top spot, Dunedoo is only one point behind with Coonamble and Binnaway tussling for fourth spot. The Youth League game opened the day with the Panthers going into their match with some re-found confidence. The ladder leaders, the young Coonamble Bear cubs shattered that confidence early when they raced to a 24-0 lead. It wasn’t until just before half-time that Kyzah Louie was able to put first points on the board for the Panthers and go to the break trailing 24-4. 

Coonamble put another 10 points on the board before Al Riley touched down for the Panthers to make it 34-8. The Bear cubs then pressed the throttle and raced out to 52-8. The young Panthers refused to throw in the towel and Kyzah Louie crossed for two more tries to make the final score 52-18. The Pinkies also went into their match oozing confidence after their last start victory but once again, that confidence was soon washed away with an early onslaught from the girly Bears. The hosts clocked up 26 points before the Pinkies fought their way back. 

Emily Fardell crossed twice before the break and Shian Chatfield converted both tries to make the score more respectable at the break, trailing 26-12. The Pinkies played a much more determined second half and although they didn’t post any more points, they were able to restrict their opponents to just four points in the half, to go down 30-12. 

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