There's been plenty of standout moments for the Cowra Eagles during the 2021 Blowes Clothing Cup season but scoring a dominant win at Dubbo was particularly sweet for captain Tim Berry.
The Eagles were a class above the Kangaroos at No. 1 Oval on Saturday, with former Dubbo player Berry and his fellow forwards immense in the 40-3 victory.
The intensity of the Cowra forwards around the breakdown and a dominant scrum set the tone against an already understrength Roos side which had to deal with further injuries to Joe Nash and Josh Bass in the second half.
The bonus-point win provides Cowra with a huge boost heading into the final round's minor premiership-deciding blockbuster against Orange Emus, while it was another low point for a Roos side whose finals dreams were already over.
"One of the goals was to get the bonus point so we could stay in touch with Emus, and we did that," Berry said, Emus having beaten City in Saturday's Orange derby.
"Now it's about reassessing again. We never knew how it was going to play after having about three weeks off (due to general bye and COVID lockdown) so it was pleasing to not let any tries in.
"There was a few balls late in the second half that went to ground and they're things we can work on.
"But overall, to come here and win, very proud."
Berry was a first grade premiership winner during his time with the Roos and has been a key leader for the Eagles since returning home in 2017.
His work in the back-row with former NSW Country player Chris Miller was massive on Saturday, while flanker Blake Tidswell was handful all match and the front-row pairing of Gabe Brown and Tom Cummins set the standard at the set piece.
"You look around and there's few and fewer of the guys I played with," Berry said of the Roos.
"But it's a great club. We always respect the Dubbo Roos and I loved it up here. It was a great club to be a part of.
"The rivalry gives you a little bit of an extra drive."
The Roos' sides Berry were a part of were regularly around the top of the ladder but the current outfit heads into next weekend's final match having only won once in the past eight rounds.
Saturday's match summed up the Roos' season to a large extent as they were overrun by a bigger forward pack, lacked any spark in attack, and again dealt with a number of injuries.
Jake Styles kicked a penalty goal on 18 minutes after his side had begun brightly but that was as good as it got on Saturday as Cowra led 12-3 at half-time before going on with the job in the second stanza.
"We knew Cowra would be dominant in the forward pack and it was as they went on," Roos coach Paul Hausia said.
"It showed in the second half, they were too dominant and it's a credit to our boys for going right to the end but you can't take anything away from Cowra."
As tough as the season has been - more than 20 senior players were on the injury list on Saturday alone - Hausia has been keen to stay upbeat and point out the positive culture within the first grade side and club as a whole.
we've just got keep getting in their ear and keep them positive.Paul Hausia on Roos' players
That remained on Saturday but he admitted the heavy losses did take a toll on his players.
"Very much so," he said.
"As I keep saying to the other coaches, we've just got keep getting in their ear and keep them positive.
"It is hard but it's a credit to them because it's 80 minutes every weekend and they keep putting their body on the line."
Tries for fullback Noah Ryan and scrumhalf Ellis Hawker, the latter following a quick tap and go after a penalty, helped Cowra lead 12-3 at the break and Hawker got a second after half-time when he scooped up a loose ball and ran 60m after his side won another scrum against the feed.
Jeremy Montgomery and Fraser Robertson also crossed while winger Navitali Bola iced the win in the closing minutes after bouncing off a number of attempted tackles out wide.
"The number one thing was to go out and weather the storm and we did because they had a great start," Berry said.
"We wanted to work on our defence and to keep them scoreless up here is a great achievement.
"One of the biggest aspects of that was our scrum. That was led by our front-row, Tommy Cummins, Fraser Robertson, and Gabe Brown. They've set the tone for the whole year and today they paid us back in spades."
- COWRA EAGLES 40 (Ellis Hawker 2, Noah Ryan, Jeremy Montgomery, Fraser Robertson, Navitali Bola tries; Ryan 5 conversions) defeated DUBBO KANGAROOS 3 (Jake Styles penalty)