Magpies, Panthers have plenty to play for in memorial clash

Cowra Magpies captain Josh Rainbow with the Chad Nealon Memorial Cup earlier this season. Photo: Phil Blatch
Cowra Magpies captain Josh Rainbow with the Chad Nealon Memorial Cup earlier this season. Photo: Phil Blatch

The Chad Nealon Memorial Challenge has seen Cowra Magpies and Bathurst Panthers lock horns in some blockbuster clashes since its inception in 2007.

This Saturday’s edition should be no different, the Magpies and Panthers, both flying high from big victories in round 13, will be doing all they can to secure a top two spot on the Group 10 ladder at Sid Kallas Oval.

Cowra coach Steve Sutton knows the importance of the fixture in context of both the first grade side’s season and for the entire club defending the Chad Nealon Memorial Challenge Cup.

“He was a very good young footballer. If he was still here today and was living in Cowra we’d not gone anywhere near Benji John. He was the modern day hooker,” Sutton said of Chad Nealon.

“We hold it at the moment because the first grade game was the only encounter before the NRL match in round one.”

Sutton’s placing an emphasis on winning the battle in the middle of the park against Panthers.

“If we win we get a bit of a bumper on them which we need. We need the points before the upcoming bye which we get no points for this round. It’s very important in the context with only three games left after this,” he said.

“We have to be strong up the middle. They’re a really well balanced side. In the previous game we aimed up really well in the middle. A win against Panthers would really consolidate our spot in the top two.”

In a minor blow for the Magpies, Warren Williams is sidelined with an abdominal strain but will likely return after the bye against St Pat’s, meaning Jeremy Gordon moves to five-eighth and Desi Doolan will start at fullback this week.

It’s Old Boys Days and Sutton hopes a vocal home crowd can get his side over the line.

“From what I’ve heard there’s a few people coming back for it. Hopefully we get a heap there and get the job done for them,” he said.

Cowra:

1 Desi Doolan, 2 Caley Mok, 3 Bradyn Cassidy, 4 Lee McClintock, 5 Zac Browne, 6 Jeremy Gordon, 7 Joseph Bugg, 8 Zach Starr, 9 Benji John, 10 Blake Tidswell, 11 Jay McClintock, 12 Josh Rainbow, 13 Ronald Lawrence.