At half-time in Sunday's Laurie Daley Cup match at Narromine it appeared the Western Rams were locked in a tight tussle and in need of some inspiration to wrestle momentum back from the Macarthur Wests Tigers.
The Rams had started the match in fine style and some electric attacking footy had them up 18-0 but that margin was cut to just two points when the half-time siren sounded at a hot Cale Oval.
But any fears of a Tigers onslaught were extinguished within 11 minutes of the restart as the Rams raced in three quick tries to build a commanding lead.
That was a sign of things to come as the hosts piled on three more late tries to run out convincing 50-16 winners and maintained their perfect record in the under 18s competition after three rounds.
Five-eighth Braye Porter and back-rower Finnley Neilsen were outstanding for the hosts and each scored doubles while combining with great effect on the left edge with outside backs David West and Nathan Walker.
Toby Miller provided real spark off the bench and crossed twice as well in the win but it was the manner of the victory and the second half rally which was most pleasing for the Rams.
"We came out strong and that was one of our goals and then we got ourselves into a bit of a battle and that's what we had to talk about at half-time," Porter said.
"We had to set ourselves back up with a 0-all mindset and that's what we did but it was just about the home crowd and showing a bit of pride in the jersey itself."
Some of the Rams' tries were worthy of any highlight reel.
After Neilsen went through a yawning gap to open the scoring the hosts' second had the healthy Cale Oval crowd on their feet.
Dubbo CYMS star Porter started and finished the move, shifting the ball left from the halfway line before being on hand to finish the swift attack along the edge and run around under the posts to score.
The third was equally impressive as Porter beat Macarthur fullback Tyreese Rea-Milford to a Cooper Egan bomb then had the ability to pop the ball to Neilsen while on the deck and the Parkes back-rower was too strong as he went over again.
But errors soon began to creep into the Rams' game and the visitors made them pay, rolling forward with real momentum and getting rewarded via tries for Isaiah Anamani, Raphael Pereira, and Jibril Elrich to make the score 18-16 at the break.
That proved to be as close as the visitors got as Walker finished another blistering left-edge move when he scooped up a perfect grubber from Neilsen, who had been put into space by elusive fullback Samuel Lane, and crossed four minutes into the second half before Porter dummied on his own 20m line and then showed great pace to go all the way and cross in the first set following the restart.
Porter's conversion attempt was successful and it was only another five minutes later he was sending the ball through the sticks again after Lachlan Lawson had planted the ball down to extend the lead further.
3QT | @WesternRams score on the bell to go out to a commanding 38-16 lead.— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) February 21, 2021
Long range try for Braye Porter a highlight of that quarter and Rams are right on top. Defence has been strong when Macarthur has had a few chances and now just a case of finishing the job.
Parkes young gun Miller was a standout off the bench and had ensured the Rams kept momentum and he was rewarded with a late double while Forbes winger Darcy Leadbitter also scored in the dominant second half showing.
"The points help but it's about how we play and what we train to do," Porter said.
"If the points come we're happy but if it's the right way then we're even happier."
Porter also talked up his side's left edge, which punched through the Macarthur defensive line time and time again.
"We're going well and we're getting that combination going," he said of playing with fellow NSW Country representative Neilsen.
"We're trying to play fast, flat, simple footy and there's 'Westy' who's good in a bit of space and Nathan Walker so it's clicking well."
Porter finished with a personal haul of 22 points and Macarthur coach Shaune Wiffen was left to admit the Rams are currently the side to beat in the competition.
"It's disappointing ... we get ourselves back into the game and then we shoot ourselves in the foot with simple mistakes and penalties that ruin it for us," he said.
"But they're a good side and have been for a few years.
"They're prob the benchmark for this side of the comp. There's a couple of sides up north that are similar so if you want to win it you've got to compete with sides like this."
Next round shapes as a sterner test for the Rams as they will travel to Canberra to take on fellow unbeaten side, the Monaro Colts.
The Rams under 16s will head to Canberra following another frustrating loss on Sunday.
Western lead Macarthur at half-time in that contest but continual errors and ill-discipline resulted in the Tigers running away to a 30-18 victory.
- WESTERN RAMS 50 (Finnley Neilsen 2, Braye Porter 2, Toby Miller 2, Nathan Walker, Lachlan Lawson, Darcy Leadbitter tries; Porter 7 goals) defeat MACARTHUR WESTS TIGERS 16 (Isaiah Anamani, Raphael Pereira, Jibril Elrich tries; Harrison Small 2 goals)