It’s going to take something incredible for Cowra Eagles to make this season’s Blowes Clothing Cup semi-finals but performances like the weekend’s will give them a chance.
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The Eagles unveiled a number of mid-season recruits to their home crowd at the Rugby Grounds on Saturday, with Waisale Ratudina and Visile Rabotini combining for five tries in a 50-17 thumping of Orange City.
Ratudina grabbed a hat-trick while Rabotini registered a double both after halftime.
Cowra’s relentless attack eventually took its toll on a depleted City outfit, as the Eagles crossed for 36 points in a one-sided second-half, after it being locked at 14-all at the break.
Eagles coach Troy Hayes was pleased to see the ball “thrown around” and heaped praise on his new outside backs – Ratudina and Rabotini.
“It’s good to see the ball getting thrown around again. It’s the way we’ve tried to play the past two years I’ve been coaching.
“They were outstanding. It’s easy to coach a side when there’s a bunch of people who are finishers. People say wingers aren’t a specialist position but I personally think they are and that showed today.”
City posted first points inside the opening five minutes through five-eight Keegan Harding who knocked over his first of four penalty goals for the day.
About 20 minutes in Eagles fullback John Grant crossed and Troy Jeffs added the extras for a 7-3 lead.
Harding reduced the margin to one point with another penalty, before Jimmy Montgomery notched a five-pointer and Jeffs kicked the conversion for a 14-6 lead.
City locked it up during the final 10 minutes of the opening half courtesy of a Logan Brockman try, a conversion from Harding and then a penalty goal from 40m out on the touch line.
City coach Steve Hamson said he spoke to his side at the break about “staying in the grind” but conceded Cowra’s backline was too strong.
Ratudina crossed for his first about eight minutes from the restart.
Jeffs’ conversion missed and Harding kicked a penalty goal to reduce the lead again, this time to 19-17.
From there, Cowra piled on 31 unanswered points with Ratudina going across a further two times, Rabotini twice and substitute Vaughn Nolan scored a late try to seal the victory 50-17.
While indicating he was missing 10 regulars from his squad, Hamson said City’s performance in the second 40 minutes was below their potential.
“We didn’t have a solid kick chase line. They probably got the better of the key moments in early stages of the second-half,” Hamson said before talking about Cowra’s new recruits.
“They ran good lines and were hard to tackle and they hurt us in open play, so did John Grant.
“We didn’t really play to our potential, I think, throughout the majority of the second-half.”
Coach Hayes hopes to carry the momentum to Parkes next week.
“That’s going to be another challenge. It’s one week at a time for us. There’s still the thought of playing semi-final football,” he said.
Cowra Eagles 50 (Waisale Ratudina 3, Visile Rabotini 2, John Grant, Jimmy Montgomery, Vaughn Nolan tries; Troy Jeffs 4, Anthony Yeo conversion) defeated Orange City 17 (Logan Brockman try; Keegan Harding 4 penalty goals and conversion).
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