Cowboys claim local derby

William Nolan presents Cowboys' captain Mitch Wilson with the Basil Nolan Shield.

By Glyn Rees and Tania Phillips

The Warwick Cowboys are unbeaten after two rounds of the Toowoomba Rugby League Hutchinson Builders A Grade competition after beating neighbours Wattle Warriors at Father Ranger Oval on Saturday afternoon.

In what will certainly rate among their highlights of the season, a 38 – 14 winning result saw the Cowboys hoist the prestigious Basil Nolan Memorial Trophy on Saturday evening, an award that has immense meaning to the Warwick Cowboys club and Warwick district community.

The award has been contested between the two Southern Downs clubs since it’s 2019 inception, named in honour of highly respected Warwick Cowboys stalwart Basil Nolan Jun.

A dominant second half was the key to the Cowboys overwhelming the Warriors in a seven try to three walloping at Warwick’s Father Ranger Oval.

Victory was sweet for the Warwick top grade line-up after their 12 – 22 loss against the Warriors in the recent pre-season Barrett Family Shield.

Coach Col Speed couldn’t speak highly enough of his team’s win, their second in succession after dispatching the Newtown Lions in their last start, before collecting valuable premiership points against Wattles.

“We were probably disappointed with our performance against Wattles the last time we played them in the Barrett Shield and we learned from that,” he said.

“Basically, we came out to represent the community and also play for the Basil Nolan Shield – who was a well-known identity in the Warwick community and his friends and family were there on Saturday night. It made it a special occasion and we were very proud of the boys that they rose to the occasion. It showed respect to the Nolan family particularly to his sons who were in the dressing rooms when we sang the song and handed them the shield.”

He said the difference between the two performances against Wattles this year was commitment.

“One we treated as a trial and this one we were a bit more committed as regards to treating it like it deserved to be – like we were playing for a shield and for two points in front of our home ground. It was about giving ourselves self accountability and having pride in the jersey.”

He said with a young spine and some young players, like the first win against Newtown last week, it was a learning curve.

“We learned that it doesn’t matter who we play and where they sit on the ladder we’ve got to go through the basic core skills,” Speed said.

“We’ve got to tough it out and earn the right to play some footy.”

He said the fact that this is what the team is doing is probably the most pleasing aspect about the way they are playing.

A big crowd saw the Cowboys undefeated in the Round two contests, finishing winners in first and reserve grade and a hard fought Under 19 draw.

Warwick welcomed back talented skipper Mitch Wilson, a significant line-up addition, while Andrew Richardson donned the Wattles green and gold after a couple of seasons absence with Ipswich league team the Fassifern Bombers.

While Saturday evening’s first-grade contest may have read a little one sided viewing the scoreboard, the initial forty minutes were anything but so.

Both sides put on a master class first stanza performance, a highlight their better than 90 per cent completion rates that equated to some eye-catching league, and at the break the winning honours could have gone either way.

Mobile prop Tui Oloapu, who led the Cowboys forwards throughout with finesse, snatched a try lead for the home team after just six minutes of play.

Flying finisher Jake Speed and fullback Nick Chapman also ran in first half tries for Warwick, but the closely fought first forty included two touchdowns by Wattles winger Mitch Bourke resulting in Cowboys holding a 14 – 10 advantage at half time.

In contrast, the early stages of the second half were era ridden for both sides, the Warriors in particular struggled to put their match plan together, anything but on song as they folded under the Cowboys onslaught of size, speed and a precise kicking game.

The Warriors campaign was further hampered with the loss of centre Craig Donn and five-eight Kai Duggan to the sin bin in the 52nd and 58th minutes respectively.

It was all Warwick across the second stanza led by the likes of speed machines Joseph Vite and Josh Robinson in the centres and classy halves, five-eight Nick Carrie and halfback Caleb Murphy.

Warwick galloped in four second half tries to skid away with the win, Wattles only four-pointer coming in the 53rd minute when a Tom Hatch kick found its way into five eight Kai Duggans hands to score.

In a tough away match campaign Wattles’ Duggan, burly front-rower Cooper Tate-Roche and impact forward Jacob Leach took the fight to the Cowboys throughout.

This weekend Warwick take on Southern Suburbs at Gold Park at 6.30pm on Saturday while at the same time at Platz Oval Wattles play Toowoomba Valley.

Warwick 38 (Tui Oloapu, Jake Speed, Nick Chapman, Joe Vite, Josh Robinson, Swithin Sakiki, Nick Carrie tries; Caleb Murphy 5 goals) defeated Wattles 14 (Mitch Bourke 2, Kai Duggan tries; Braydon Paiz goal).

Reserve Grade.

Warwick 24 (Mitchell McMahon, Alifeleti Vite, Bill Sullivan, Chris Watt tries; Matthew Henry 4 goals) defeated Wattles 16 (Tim Hentschel, Isaac Leach, Aiden Suhan tries; Tom Morris 2 goals).

Under 19

Wattles 22 (Hamish Gartery, Bryce Stewart, Will Sheppard, Paul Costello tries; Koby De Luca 3 goals) drew with Warwick 22 (Codie Johnson, Isaiah Hinch, Lachlan Collins, Lucis Taualai tries; Sam Wainwright 3 goals).