Cowra Eagles’ Blowes Clothing Cup season is finished following Saturday’s 35-29 defeat at the hands of the finals bound Dubbo Kangaroos.
The victory secured Roos third place after the regular season, booking them a spot in next week’s major semi-final and setting up a blockbuster against Forbes Platypi.
The result meant little in theory for the Cowra side, with fifth-placed Orange City defeating Parkes Boars 29-12 at Northparkes Oval.
Dubbo captain Shaun McHugh was pleased to bounce back from last week’s “touch up” by Orange Emus, and says his side and Forbes Platypi can expect a close encounter in the opening week of the Blowes Clothing Cup finals.
“We’re pretty excited. We know we can do better. Forbes beat us by one point down there in the first round and we beat them by seven at Dubbo so there’s not much between us,” McHugh said.
He singled out Hamish Gordon’s performance on Saturday, describing it as a “blinder”.
“Our backline’s been great all year. Our scrum was better today than last week, our line speed was better today than last week. It was a pretty solid performance from everyone.
“Hamish Gordon had a blinder, especially with the boot he was great.”
While there was satisfaction in the Roos’ camp, Cowra skipper Tom Dewhurst was disappointed to end the year with a loss, particularly in front of a home crowd.
“Unfortunately we would have liked to have got over Dubbo today regardless of not going forward. We were at home and we don’t like losing here,” Dewhurst said.
“For a lot of the game we really gave it to them.
“It took us all season but we finally put it together there at the end. I think we showed that we can match it with the top teams.”
Cowra posted first points courtesy of a Bill Cummins try before Dubbo flyer Viliame Turuva, who bagged a hat-trick, and Billy Sing crossed to give the visitors a 12-5 lead after 20 minutes.
The Eagles dominated the next 15 minutes, running in three unanswered tries through Jeremy Montgomery, Waisale Ratudina and Vilise Rabotini to race to a 12-point lead.
With seconds remaining on the clock before the break, and the Eagles staring at a healthy lead in the sheds, Roos launched a response and quickly turned a 24-12 scoreline to 24-22.
It was sparked by a penalty 40m out from the Cowra line which Roos’ Hamish Gordon took advantage of, slotting the goal easily, to reduce the margin to nine pints. Then on receiving possession from the kick-off, they sent the ball to Turuva who made light work of Cowra’s edge defence on his way to posting his second for the day.
Gordon added the extras, turning a 12-point deficit to two within minutes.
Dubbo had all the momentum to begin the second 40 minutes and they built pressure from the restart, eventually resulting in a penalty and Gordon notching a second goal to lead 25-24.
Turuva then registered his hat-trick, streaking away under the posts after busting the Eagles’ line about 50m out.
Gordon kept his impressive strike-rate with the boot intact, increasing the margin to eight points at the hour mark.
Roos’ 32-24 lead was held for about 12 minutes then Cowra capitalised on some attacking pressure, with Rabotini going in for his second for the day but the conversion attempt sailed wide to leave it at 32-29.
It made for a gripping end to the match, but Gordon’s third penalty goal sealed Roos’ win beyond the 80th minute.
Eagles’ Dewhurst said Roos’ ability to take advantage when Cowra made errors was the difference.
“They capitised on little mistakes. We maintained possession at the start of the match and it’s something we’ve struggled with all season. But they really jumped on it [mistakes] and their counter was too good.”
Dubbo Roos 35 (Viliame Turuva 3, Billy Sing tries; Hamish Gordon 3 conversions and 3 penalty goals) defeated Cowra Eagles 29 (Vilise Rabotini 2, Bill Cummins, Jeremy Montgomery, Waisale Ratudina tries; Troy Jeffs, Alex Webster conversions)