Cowra’s eliminated defending premiers Forbes Platypi in stunning style to book a spot in next week’s Blowes Clothing Cup preliminary final.
Two intercept tries in the final five minutes lifted the Eagles to a 24-10 victory on Sunday at the Cowra Rugby Grounds, the score blowing out to a 14-point winning margin after it was locked at 10-10 after 74 minutes.
Cowra edged ahead with minutes remaining courtesy of a brilliant piece of work by Steve Montgomery against the run of play.
He remarkably plucked the ball from the air as the Platypi looked to play the ball out of their own end from a scrum 10m out from their own line.
He crashed over and was swarmed by teammates before Pate Breamaisur added the extras for a 17-10 lead with under two minutes left.
Nacina iced the win soon after and the final whistle blew, marking Cowra’s biggest result in five years and the end of the Platypi’s season.
Cowra captain Chrill Miller was pleased the victory but knows improvement is needed next week against Bathurst Bulldogs if they’re to progress to the decider at Orange Emus’ Endeavour Oval in a fortnight.
“It’s a great feeling, it’s fantastic. We certainly know the job is not over and there’s plenty to go and it’s quite pleasing that we’re still in the competition,” Miller said.
“Our first half was pretty scrappy and we could have put a few more points on them. We really stuck in there, our attitude was probably seven out of 10. It’s a big step up next week and there’s room for improvement.”
Cowra led 7-3 at the break thanks to a 34th minute try by Eagles halfback Troy Jeffs after Forbes went ahead by three in the early stages.
It was all Cowra from the restart but Forbes’ defence was impressive.
A couple of opportunities for three points went begging off the boot of Jack Thurtell, but Cowra kept their cool and kept peppering the Platypi’s line.
Another penalty was awarded, this time Eagles fullback Pate Breamaisur stood up and knocked it over for a 10-3 lead with 18 minutes remaining.
Forbes moved into attacking territory for the first time in the second-half and immediately turned it into points with prop Cameron Bennett crashing over in the 74th minute and Simon Uphill leveled it up.
The Eagles applied defensive pressure and worked Forbes deep into their own half thanks to a charge down by Jeremy Montgomery which was eventually spilled by a Cowra player.
From the scrum, his brother Steve peeled off quickly and produced the stunning match-winning intercept try.
“It was in the balance until then. It’s good to see a local boy get a try then. We can’t rely on those late tries next week that’s for sure, we really need to get on the front foot from the kick off,” Miller said.
Platypi captain Jack Hammond was proud of his troops.
“We were right in it until two or three minutes to go but that’s rugby. It could have gone either way it was 10-10 with five to go. Credit to Cowra they took the chances. We’re not too disappointed, we fell a bit short but at the end of the day we’re still happy with the season we had,” Hammond said.
“It was just two intercepts. Nothing went wrong today. They played smart it was tough and physical. Unfortunatly for us they were on the winning side.
“It was always going to be hard being defending premiers. We tried our best to get back there.”
Cowra Eagles 24 (Troy Jeffs, Steve Montgomery, Kali Nacina tries; Jack Thurtell conversion; Pate Breamasuir two conversions; one penalty) bt Forbes Platypi 10 (Cameron Bennett try; Simon Uphill one conversion; one penalty goal.