Last season’s beaten grand finalists Dayboro Cowboys still have their sights on going one better than last year’s runners up medal; however a roadblock by the name of Pine Central Holy Spirit have other ideas.
If anyone thought PCHS were here to simply make up the numbers, are going to be sadly mistaken.
The Hornets kept the Dayboro Cowboys scoreless in a 20-0 thrashing that saw the Cowboys outgunned in this old fashioned gunfight at The Les Hughes Sporting Complex.
The Hornets turned it on from the get-go with an impressive performance that see the newly promoted club reaching for bigger and better things under the guidance of coach Justin Wallace.
It was a hard fought victory and probably not one of the most appetising games to watch, however both sides turned on a defensive spectacle that shook the foundations for anybody at the ground.
The Hornets – superbly led by hooker Nate McNamara, halfback Mitchell Blackman and fullback Dylan Hawea – were near perfect. The trio were near faultless in a scrappy encounter that saw the home side at times produce some quality football.
Two try hero McNamara was outstanding. His first try was a gutsy effort that saw the nuggetty hooker plough his way under some brittle Cowboys defence to see the Hornets first on the board.
Unfortunately goal kicking proved to be a problem for Blackman that saw his first attempt waved away.
To Dayboro’s credit, they were missing some quality players, but take nothing away from Pine Central, they could smell blood in the water in front of a great crowd on a very hot and humid day.
Despite the Cowboys setback of some missing some of their star players in their squad, take nothing away from Aaron King, Jack White or Laurie Chilcott who at times held the Cowboys together like glue in the torrid encounter.
It took the expertise of Hornets Blackman to show-and-go on the next score.
His wonderful dummy sucked in two Cowboys defenders to send in Hawea who sliced through to score a fantastic Hornets try.
Again the defence was rock solid by both sides. In stifling conditions, you have to take your hat off to these players for coming out all guns blazing in what looked like a mouth-watering showdown on paper, but unfortunately did not live up to expectations on the day.
In a gutsy attacking effort, Dayboro counter attacked 30 seconds before the break that saw them a metre out from the Hornets line. But some heroic defence by Bristow and Miller saw the Cowboys edged out right on the stroke of halftime taking Pine Central to the sheds at 8-0.
The second half was again a defensive extravaganza. The Cowboys weathered an incredible five sets of attack before the Hornets through Blackman, threw a neat inside pass to see the home side extend their lead to 12-0.
Dayboro did however keep their nerve. Eventually, their weight of pressure was relieved as some fundamental handling errors by Pine Central gave the visitor’s a glimmer of hope to score, but again the defensive muscle of the home side was proving the pivotal point in this game.
The respite for Dayboro was short lived however, as a terrible mistake from a textbook 40/20 by Blackman saw the Cowboys let the ball run in to touch unawares of the precision kick.
From the second play off the scrum, McNamara again would scurry his way under the Cowboys tiring defence to score beside the sticks. New kicker Matt Lange slotted the conversion to see the home side 18-0 up.
Dominating possession, the Hornets skilful support play found plenty of holes to exploit in the Cowboys outwide, but some bad handling errors from the humid conditions could have seen the home side blow the scoreline out even further.
The Cowboy’s now playing for pride, did their chances no favours as constant niggling and hands on the ball in the ruck would eventually see the referee hand a penalty to the Hornets from 10m out.
Blackman was able to land the easy conversion to seal a 20-0 victory.
The Hornets playing at this pace and flair will be hard to beat, whilst the Cowboys showed in the second half they have the talent and the right blend of experience and youth to once again be a formidable side.
Final score: Pine Central Holy Spirit 20 def Dayboro Cowboys 0