Cowra Magpies assistant coach Steve Sutton could do little but give Willie Heta and his Orange Hawks due credit at Sid Kallas Oval on Friday afternoon after the two blues edged out last year's beaten grand finalists to score their second straight win of the Group 10 premier league season.
The Magpies were hit hard by injuries prior to the clash, but Sutton simply said the two blues were too good in claiming a 21-14 win, a victory that was put beyond doubt by Matt Boss' 78th minute field goal.
"[Hawks] were just too good in the end, they deserved to win," Sutton said.
"The old injury curse has hit us this year, we lost Zach Browne last night and Bradyn Cassidy, so they both pulled out which meant we had a reshuffle straight away.
"We just didn't stick to what we set out to do. We know how we want to play the game and ... we just didn't stick to what we've been working on ... which pulled us out of shape a bit. That led to a few errors.
We just didn't stick to what we set out to do. We know how we want to play the game and ... we just didn't stick to what we've been working on.Cowra assistant coach Steve Sutton
"It was probably a better performance than [in last week's 24-12 loss to Mudgee] but we're still not where we want to be."
Sutton went on to lament a lack of cohesion in the loss as well, although his side actually opened the scoring through Lee McClintlock, with Logan Harris' conversion giving the hosts a 6-nil lead at the 17-minute mark.
Hawks hit back and then took a 10-8 lead through Jordan Baker and then Eman Rodriguez, the two tries coming in as many minutes midway through the opening half, with Duncan Young converting the second.
Baker crossed for his second two out from the break and Young converted, extending Hawks' lead to 16-8 until Warren Williams scored the first of his second-half double to slash the gap to a converted try just after half-time.
Rodriguez pushed the two blues' lead back to 10 with 12 minute to go though and despite Williams' second five minutes later the Magpies couldn't cut into the margin any more, Boss nailing his field goal attempt with two minutes to go to put the game to bed.
The victory leaves Hawks undefeated leading into their round three bye, which gives Heta's troops a chance to freshen up before a mammoth road trips to face Jack Littlejohn's also-unbeaten Mudgee Dragons and the Oberon in round four.
Considering Hawks aren't at home until the fifth round of the season early-season victories on the road like Friday's can't be understated, although their round four trip to Glen Willow Sporting Complex looks a touger box to tick than either of their first two.
Cowra, on the other hand, will be somewhat chasing their tails in the next few weeks although as Sutton said "it's early days" and the Magpies do have two winnable games next up against the winless Lithgow Workies and Blayney Bears.
"Still, we can't afford to keep dropping games, we've got to lift our performances and make sure we're better again next week ... the preparation for next week starts now," he said.
"The effort's there, we're not complaining about the effort at all, everybody's trying (but) we've got some blokes pulling to the left and some blokes pulling to the right when we should be pushing together forward ... we're not all pushing in the right direction at this stage.
"It's never an easy game against [Lithgow] ... and we'll desperately need the two points so heads down, bums up ... and hopefully the result goes our way.
"If we win next week, we're in exactly the same position as we were 12 months ago. From three rounds, we were one from three last year.
"With a bit of luck we'll get Zach and Braydn back next week, which will strengthen us. Jay McClintock will probably be back next week as well so all of a sudden we've got a bit more depth across the park so we should be better from there."
- ORANGE HAWKS 21 (Eman Rodriguez 2, Jordan Baker 2 tries; Duncan Young 2 goals; Matt Boss field goal) def COWRA MAGPIES 14 (Warren Williams 2, Lee McClintlock tries; Logan Harris goal)
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