Considering his Cockatoos’ preparation, or lack thereof, NSW Country head coach Mat Thomas was stoked with his side’s campaign-opening win over the ACT Brumbies Provincial side at Camden on Sunday, a victory that came largely thanks to big efforts of Central West’s six-strong contingent.
Orange Emus’ Tom Green, Bathurst Bulldogs’ Peter Fitzsimmons, Cowra’s Chris Miller, Parkes’ Dan Ryan and Forbes duo Mahe Fangupo and Charlie French all played vital roles in the victory, the latter was a late call-up after initially being left out of the side, which ground out a tough 34-24 win.
“Considering we only trained together as a group for an hour-and-a-half before the game and had a lot of debutants as well it was a pretty impressive effort, especially to score 34 points in the way we did,” Thomas said, virtually every time the Cockatoos retained possession effectively they scored.
“In that respect, considering those circumstances, it was the perfect way to start the program and we showed glimpses of what we’re capable of which was promising, but there’s plenty to work on before we play Queensland Country later this month.
“Greeny was good outside the yellow card he got (for a professional foul) and Chris Miller and Dan Ryan really led the pack around, they ran the lineout and set the tone at scrum-time in the second-row.
“Frenchy was a late call-up but he showed he deserved to be there, it was one of his best games for NSW Country and Mahe, at halfback, was just instrumental. He’s linked well with (five-eighth and skipper) Ben Damen before and he did again on the weekend.
“[Fitzsimmons] was just very, very good when he came on.”
As Thomas said though, while the result was pleasing the performance was “far from perfect”, with discipline and tenacity at the breakdown two big areas he says the side needs to work on before facing their Queensland counterparts at Goondiwindi on June 30.
Green’s yellow card was one of three the Cockatoos received – with French also sin-binned – and Thomas said his side turned over far too much ball, “missing the target” plenty of times on both sides of the breakdown.
NSW Country’s colts also played at Camden, kicking off their campaign in a round-robin trial against Sydney’s best under-19 players.
The side, including Orange City trio Hayden Leopold, Nick Fisher and Hayden Goodall, Orange Emus’ Sam Greatbatch, Dubbo Kangaroos’ Pat Berryman and Josh Jasprizza and CSU Bathurst’s Lachie Buckton, lost all three of its games but was far from outclassed against the well-drilled Sydney sides.