Back to Back: Cowra's under 15s win in a thriller at Jack Arrow Park

The Cowra Magpies went back-to-back in the under 15s Group 10 grand final, narrowly defeating the Bathurst Panthers to triumph 14-12. Photo: Ben Rodin
The Cowra Magpies went back-to-back in the under 15s Group 10 grand final, narrowly defeating the Bathurst Panthers to triumph 14-12. Photo: Ben Rodin

The wind is a funny thing in footy.

Take it for granted, and it has a funny knack of disappearing right when you want it to be there. Respect it, and it usually ends up holding true and then some in your hour of need.

In the middle of the Cowra's under 15s grand final, faced with the might of a Bathurst side they only defeated two weeks prior and an 8-0 deficit enforced in part by said winds, the Magpies, fighting for a back-to-back premiership, had a decision to make as to how they'd use the second half advantage.

It is one thing have the breeze on your side, it's another thing to play catch up footy - in a grand final no less - in a sport where you're frequently going backwards to go forwards.

And, yet at the final siren, the Magpies triumphed, winning 14-12.

Built off the back of captain Leroy Murray's control from five-eighth and number 12 Jacob Haeata's Man of the Match performance, the Magpies surged to take control of the game, scoring two tries in the first ten minutes, one courtesy of Murray, to equalise the scoreline.

However, Bathurst, as a team that had only lost one game for the year is wont to do, responded in style, working the ball forward to score a try in the 47th minute, making the scores 12-8 .

The tension at the ground ratcheted up tenfold, with parents and friends of the players on-field unleashing a raucous racket every time a tackle was made.

They're an unbelievable group of boys.

Cowra Magpies under 15s co-coach Ken McNamara

Nevertheless, it was Cowra who were able to respond once more, with a try to Harry Thuaux to the left of the post drawing scores level.

With both teams preferring to spread the ball wide in order to score tries, the placement of this try - the last try of the game - proved crucial, as it allowed Murray an opportunity to take the conversion attempt at close range.

He converted truly - in the 53rd minute - with the two point gap proving too difficult for the Panthers team to budge.

Haeata, whose work as a second rower was strong throughout the day, made one of the biggest runs of the day late, taking 20 or 30 metres, before being tackled 20m short of the try line.

It proved crucial once the final siren blew, as Panthers frantically moved the ball in search of a way forward.

Cowra Magpies co-coach Ken McNamara said he was overjoyed at the result.

"It's unbelievable," he said.

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"At the start of the year, I didn't think we'd get that close because we've had lots of injuries and things... They're an unbelievable group of boys that have come together and played really well at the end of the season, the important time."

The co-coach, who partnered alongside Dean Murray and Craig Negus to help guide the boys to their second successive premiership, said that the wind was definitely at the forefront of their mind as they went into the second half down eight points.

"We needed to stick with them until half-time, and we had the wind in the second half, and we knew if we only get one try, we knew that we'd slowly get on top and that's what happened."

Once the team did get ahead though, McNamara was just as proud of his team's ability to utilise training scenarios to hold on to the narrow two point lead for the game's remainder.

"At training, you prepare for that last ten minutes, and the ten minutes was you just do whatever you can to defend, and the boys did that [today]," he explained.

  • UNDER 15s GRAND FINAL: COWRA MAGPIES 14 (Tries: Leroy Murray, Harry Thuaux, unknown, Goal: Murray) def BATHURST PANTHERS 12