A huge defensive effort has piloted Cowra to victory over Bathurst Panthers on Saturday, strengthening the Magpies’ bid for a top two finish in 2018.
Cowra repelled countless attacking raids to only trail 12-8 at halftime before scoring four tries to one in the second period to clinch the 32-18 round 14 win.
Magpies coach Steve Sutton was delighted by the effort of his players particularly defending their own line.
“We look at the for and against and we know we have the best defence in the competition. We back ourselves and it was on show here today. They had a lot of ball in our 20m but we kept turning up and turning up, that’s the attitude we need,” he said.
It was 12-8 to Panthers at the break thanks to tries to Blake Hewitt and captain-coach Doug Hewitt, a late Cowra penalty goal converted by Caley Mok reduced the margin after Warren Williams scored the first try of the day.
Cowra regained the lead in the 50th minute through a try to Zac Browne courtesy of a massive play from Williams stripping the ball from Panthers’ Josh Rivett on halfway.
Four minutes later, Williams grabbed his second for the day and Mok converted a difficult kick in front of the Magpies faithful to give Cowra a 20-12 lead.
A second try to Doug Hewitt reduced the margin to 20-18 with 18 minutes remaining but back-to-back four-pointers for the Magpies’ Ben Gunn and Jay McClintock secured the 32-18 win.
“It was really gritty. The guys just stuck to it in the second half and took their opportunities. There was a couple of special plays, Warren Williams he more or less turned the game,” Sutton said.
Panthers’ Doug Hewitt gave credit to a “well-drilled” Magpies outfit and expects the swoopers to be right in the mix at the end of the year.
“We knew it was going to be an arm wrestle. Cowra’s well drilled this year that’s the reason they’re sitting second at the moment. They are one of the sides to beat if not the side to beat,” he said.
“Hopefully we can finish strong into the finals and win a couple of games. We’re aiming top three that’s where we want to be so we can get that second crack. It’s anyone’s game in the top five this year.”
The only disappointment for Cowra was form prop Blake Tidswell going down in the the 55th minute with an ankle injury and playing no further part in the match.
“Fingers crossed he’s fine,” Sutton said.
Cowra Magpies 32 (Warren Williams 2, Zac Browne, Ben Gunn, Jay McClintock; Caley Mok 5 conversions, penalty goal) bt Bathurst Panthers (Doug Hewitt 2, Blake Hewitt; Josh Rivett 2, Willie Wright conversions)