Group 11 2018: Wellington Cowboys pay tribute to fans after season comes to an end

SHATTERED: CJ Ralph (front) and Justin Toomey-White slump to the turf late on in Sunday's preliminary final loss. Photo: NICK GUTHRIE
SHATTERED: CJ Ralph (front) and Justin Toomey-White slump to the turf late on in Sunday's preliminary final loss. Photo: NICK GUTHRIE

With four minutes to go in Sunday’s preliminary final, Forbes’ Brad McMillan crashed over to bring up the half century for the Magpies.

The result, and a spot in this year’s Group 11 grand final had all but gone for the Wellington Cowboys prior to that.

They were outclassed by a rampant Magpies outfit at Apex Oval and while some players in maroon slumped to the turf as the Forbes players celebrated, there came a call from the crowd.

“We’re still proud of you, Cowboys,” came the yell from the midst of a dejected Cowboys fanbase.

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There was frustration and even anger at some points during Sunday’s preliminary finals, but the Cowboys fans stuck by their players right until the final whistle in each of the three games in which Wellington featured.

The Cowboys lost each of those games, meaning no Wellington teams will feature on grand final day, but the support didn’t go unnoticed.

“The crowd was unreal. I can’t thank them enough,” Wellington coach Aidan Ryan said after Sunday’s loss.

“They’re behind us week in, week out and they’re so passionate. They’re as passionate as we are when we run out on to the field.

“It’s an unreal feeling for a small community of 4500 to get what’s probably the biggest crowds in Group 11.

“I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for being there week in, week out with us. They’d be hurting just as bad as we are right now.”

The flood of maroon and white colours was on show at each and every home game during the 2018 season, with Kennard Park rocking during the Cowboys’ run to the finals.

But Ryan was also keen to praise those passionate fans who made the trek to every away game, and there was a huge number of them at Apex Oval on Sunday.

Unfortunately there was no victory to savour, as the Cowboys were beaten in the reserve grade, under 18s and first grade preliminary finals.

The first grade loss was the toughest to swallow, as Ryan’s men were bundled out after a 54-24 defeat.

The Cowboys led 12-6 inside the final 10 minutes of the first half, but the Magpies scored two quick tries before the break and the dominated the second stanza.

“It gave them a lot of momentum,” Ryan said.

“We were up 12-6 for the majority of that half and they scored two quick tries. We spoke about what we needed to do at half-time and the boys did the opposite.”

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