COWRA were one of the sides spoken about during the Group 10 premier league off-season as having the potential for major improvement.
If there was any doubt about it, it was put to rest on Friday and Saturday as they swept to four straight wins in the Bathurst Panthers Rugby League Knockout, defeating Bathurst St Pat’s 7-6 in the final.
There was no lack of irony in the manner of the result either.
For the last seven seasons Tim Holman has been the fulcrum of the Saints’ attack at five-eighth but was lured to the Magpies over the summer, and it was him who gave Cowra their only four-pointer of the match.
With less than 30 seconds on the clock, fellow half Ricky Whitton piloted his shot at field goal calmly over the crossbar to avoid extra-time.
Earlier Cowra had beaten Lithgow Workies (24-1), Panthers (25-6) and the impressive Blayney team 22-6 to progress to the decider.
Pat’s had beaten Orange Hawks 12-4 and Oberon 10-8 in getting there.
“It was a great way to start out with a new club,” Holman said after the game.
“You want to make a good impression when you switch over. I’m still finding my feet at the moment but to do as well as we did over four matches in less than 24 hours was a big effort.
In the first half Cowra had to soak up plenty of pressure as the Saints dominated possession and territory but they couldn’t convert it into points.
Having gone to the break with no score on the board, the final 20 minutes was set to provide a thrilling finish to the tournament and it did.
Against the run of play, Holman crossed the line shortly after the resumption to finally break the deadlock and Whitton’s conversion made it 6-0.
Just as it appeared that Cowra would be able to keep a clean sheet and hold the Saints out, hooker Benjamin John produced a smart move to get across and put his team back in the contest with less than two minutes on the clock.
New recruit Gary Reilly added the extras to tie things up, but from the kick-off the ball went to ground to set up the Magpies’ final crack at victory, duly delivered by Whitton.
Both Cowra halves were standouts throughout the carnival along with centre Warren Williams, and their attack will cause plenty of headaches for some of the more fancied Group 10 teams.