The Wellington Cowboys have held off a determined Nyngan Tigers outfit for a 26-22 victory with both teams suffering injury concerns on Sunday.
Both teams came into the match missing first grade players and further injuries during the match left them short on their benches during the match at Kennard Park.
Cowboys coach Aidan Ryan was delighted his team were able to come away with the win, praising his players for digging deep.
“That was an amazing win with the amount of injuries we have. Everyone stepped up,” he said.
Tigers captain-coach Jacob Neill said he couldn’t fault his team’s effort despite heading back to Nyngan without the two points.
The Tigers were deep in the contest until late in the match when Wellington began to hit their straps. They led for most of the first half and regained it just after half-time.
“I’m proud of our boys effort to come to Wellington and get so close,” he said.
Cowboys Brogan Black and Richard Peckham left the field with back and hamstring injuries, while Nyngan’s James Fisk suffered a head knock and didn’t return.
The Cowboys opened the scoring less than 10 minutes into the match when Will Lousick burst through but the Tigers hit back soon after through new recruit Josh Merritt, and took the lead with his conversion.
Handling errors were common for both teams as the half went on and it stopped either team from buidling any real momentum.
The Cowboys were able to regain the lead with less than three minutes left in the half when Brock Naden found a gap in broken defence and ran 40 metres to score. AJ Davis converted to make it 10-6 at half-time.
Nyngan returned from the break fired up and took just three minutes to get over the stripe through Justin Cox with Merritt adding the extras for another lead change.
Ten minutes into the half, Justin Toomey-White made his mark, barging over. Wellington centre Norman West gave his team the biggest lead of the game when he went over. David converted both tries for a 22-12 advantage.
Merritt kept his side in the match when he put in a deft chip and chase, regathering to score in the corner. His conversion went wide, it meant the Cowboys were still in front by a converted try.
Tigers front rower Beni Cokanasiga made things interesting when he made a break down the left hand side, running 30 metres to out his team in good field position but a mistake in the play-the-ball handed the ball straight back to the hosts.
They capitalised, scoring through CJ Ralph with 10 minutes remaining to ultimately seal the victory for the Cowboys.
The Tigers didn’t give up, and were able to score with a minute remaining through Matt Sheather with Merritt slotting his hasty conversion to make to 26-22 but the siren ended any hopes of a victory.
Toomey-White and Ralph were the Cowboys’ best, while Merritt and Cokanasiga were the standouts for the visitors.