Monday 10: It was a stop-start affair but a dominant Arorangi Cowboys forward pack was able to slowly wear down the Panthers to beat them 24-nil on Saturday.
With the Cowboys leading at halftime 3-nil, an exciting second half was expected but this never eventuated as the Cowboys basically resorted to conservative 10-man ‘winning’ rugby.
Although the Panthers forwards were competitive throughout the whole match, they were eventually worn down by the more physical Cowboys forwards complimented by experienced first five-eighth David Wichman who was more than happy to plug the corners and have his forwards apply pressure at set piece time.
The Panthers’ inability to gain consistent possession saw them feed off mainly scraps of possession with their best source of attack coming via backline counter attacks from deep in their half.
Although they threatened, they were unable to score any points.
Two of three Cowboys tries were scored by their forwards – loosie Sean Wichman and lock Simona Nicholas after constant Cowboys pressure.
The last Cowboys try was a piece of Sione ‘Fa’ Fametau magic as the Cowboys fullback split the defence from the halfway line and evaded probably half the Panthers team on his way to the try line. Best for the Panthers were a fired-up Andrew Iroa operating at first five-eighth, although it was obvious that he was missing his backline cohorts halfback Keeper Maurangi and utility back Turori Matutu – both players did not play in this match due to injury.
Best for the Cowboys obviously were the entire forward pack who laid the platform for this win with special mention of tireless loose forward Sean Wichman.
In other games at the weekend, the Avatiu Eels had a convincing 22-8 win over Takuvaine while tries were hard to come by in the Titikaveka versus Ngatangiia match up.
Ngatangiia were more disciplined on the day and managed to win the match through three penalty kicks for a 9-0 score line. - Ruck & Maul