Cowboys' pressure test
SUDDEN death finals certainly brought the best out of the Emerald Cowboys, with a powerful display against Middlemount Panthers in the Tieri elimination final at the weekend.
It was true finals footy with the points margin between the two sides never fluctuating more than a couple of points for the entire 80 minutes.
So it was fitting the final result ended as close as it started with the Cowboys running out 38-32 winners in a fast and furious, tit-for-tat points scoring match.
With the scores locked up 32-all midway through the second half, a win hung in the balance for either side and the final few minutes came as a thriller for the Tieri crowd.
The breakthrough came with a Cowboys player barging over the line for a try in the game’s dying minutes. The successive two-point conversion and six-point lead was enough to grant Cowboys victory and keep their 2011 season hopes alive.
The nail-biting win left Cowboys coach Grant Archer full of adrenaline and beaming with pride after his side’s pressure performance.
“We knew we had to cut out the mistakes if we were going to win – all of them gave 100% effort for me tonight,” he said.
“We’re playing good footy and it’s at the right end of the season.”
The consistency of Cowboys forward Todd Williams was rewarded with his naming as the Central Highlands Player of the Round.
Coach Archer said many of his players made invaluable contributions to Saturday night’s game but if there was ever a man to go to, it was Williams, who was never too far away from the action.
For the Central Highlands defending premiers, Middlemount Panthers, the loss hit hard.
“Every game is tough and this one was no different,” Panthers assistant coach Blair Kidd said.
“A lot of decisions didn’t go our way, but that’s footy.
“All our boys can still hold their heads high.”
Dwindling player numbers through injury and general unavailability has cost Middlemount dearly this season.
So much so that the club was forced to concede its first forfeit since 1982, according to Kidd.
“We’ve been struggling for numbers all year,” he said.
“But we’ll be back.”
The Cowboys now face their second sudden-death final in as many weeks, this time they run out against Blackwater in Dysart.