Dubbo CYMS got rid of the cobwebs in the first round of its NSW Challenge Cup title defence to score a resounding 20-point win against the Cowra Magpies at Sid Kallas Oval.
Billed as a battle of the Group 10 and Group 11 runners-up in the lead up to the clash, the early scoring in the first quarter – the Challenge Cup is played in four 20 minute quarters – was all one way-traffic as the hosts shot out to an early 12-0 lead.
Cowra’s new recruits Lewis Dwyer, Logan Harris and Claude Gordon, the former captain-coach at Dubbo Westside, all made strong impressions for the Magpies, while full-back Jeremy Gordon was clinical with his conversions.
However, batting with a deeper bench than the Magpies, who were missing several from last year’s Group 10 grand final loss to Bathurst, CYMS worked its way back into the game in the second term, with Viliame Taruva, Corey Cox and Nick Karydis all scoring tries to bring scores level coming into half-time.
The standard of football was high for a pre-season encounter, with the added stakes of the Challenge Cup’s lucrative cash prize meaning any knock-ons and tackle infringements were from genuine rustiness rather than lack of intensity.
However, in the second half, the class differential between the two sides became readily apparent, with the top-end class of the Magpies not able to stem the scoring of the CYMS, who exploited the wings and a fragile defensive set-up to build a 20 point lead at the final siren.
The lead gave ample time for CYMS for full-back Brad Pickering to work on his conversions, with the normally reliable kick only hitting two from five kicks on the night as he makes his way back from a late pre-season start.
Nevertheless, football director at the Fishies, Wes Maas, was pleased with the performance, believing it demonstrated the side’s growing depth ahead of a long Group 11 campaign.
“As soon as they held the ball, they started going alright… there was probably six or seven reserve graders playing in there that potentially could play first grade [so] it was a good showing from them,” he said, though he added the team will change frequently should they proceed successfully through the Challenge Cup.
“It’ll be a different team next week, and it’ll be a different team the week after,” he said.
At the same time though, he did admit that there would be changes to the side over the coming weeks, with John Ciappara, Wade Kavanagh and Jackson Bonham-Phair to come back into the team after representing the under 23 Western Rams outfit.
However, Maas also added his team was very comfortable that captain-coach Jarryn Powyer didn’t have to change too much, especially following former coach Tim Ryan’s long and successful tenure at the club.
“[We’re going to] simplify the attack, and change things around a little bit, but not too much,” Maas said, alluding to last year’s one-point grand final loss in the process.
“It’s hard to knock them for last year when you lose one game by one point.”