DUNGOWAN Cowboys rode Kootingal Roosters out of the Group 4 Second Division premiership with a 40-24 minor semi-final win at Kootingal Oval on Saturday.
While the Roosters were crowing after just five minutes following centre Andrew Loveday’s first of two tries, the Cowboys lassoed those celebrations to lead 18-10 at half-time and then counter every Rooster second-half comeback with a try of their own.
With 26-year-old glazier Ashley Swan producing one of his best efforts for the club by scoring three tries off the bench, the Cowboys were in control for most of the match.
It was a Swan charge that spurred the Cowboys on from a 10-6 deficit.
Hit heavily in a combined tackle by the Rooster forwards, Swan regained his feet and took up the next attacking raid.
He found a hole, brushed through some poor defence and, when tackled by fullback Ben Howarth, was able to slip a one-handed pass to trailing Tim Walsh.
Gavin White converted and the Cowboys led 12-10 after 24 minutes.
They were never headed and then Swan gave the side an eight-point lead when he scored the first of his three tries following a Rooster penalty.
Swan crashed over again under the posts in the second half and, with just a few minutes on the clock, raced 55m, brushing through three or four defenders to notch his third try and first hat-trick.
It was a fitting highlight to finish on for the Cowboys as the Roosters contemplated the end of a season where they were missing a few key players such as Nathan Hamlin and Ryan Moore.
However coach Stu Dines made no excuses.
“They were just too good on the day,” Dines said.
“We made too many silly mistakes and a few too many errors.”
The Roosters bombed a couple of tries and had another disallowed but were always behind a much better Cowboys who had disintegrated at Kootingal Oval a few weeks previously.
“They took their chances,” Dines said.
While delighted with the win, Dungowan captain-coach Luke Taylor had some sobering messages for his side.
“We’re still not completing our sets of six,” Taylor said.
“We will be a chance if we can keep hold of the ball.
“And we did have a couple of lapses this week however we lifted every time they scored in the second half.
“So that’s a good sign.
“But we just don’t help ourselves with all the errors.”
He said Swan’s three-try effort was
“He’s a good player when he wants to be,” Taylor said.
“He’s got some talent.
“But we do have a bench full of talent.
“The bench has been good for us all year and there are some blokes who have missed out today who could have been playing as well.”
While Swan starred off the bench, Tom Borger also had good minutes while Shae Collins’ move to prop was a major hit – in attack and defence.
Matt Wilson, Liam Wise and fullback Will Gooch were all good while Ethan Sherlock made some good scurries from dummy half until nailed by Loveday.
Loveday and winger Anthony Smith both scored two tries while lock Amos Ioasa was always a danger and went close to engineering a couple of tries.
Big Phillip Cook made some big hits in close while Lonnie Hatch had the distinction of being sent off from the bench late in the game.