By HARRY CLARKE
IT SEEMED to be lost on the hundreds who were too busy chatting away and sipping champagne in the white marquee, but there was a period during the second half of the Cods-Emus ‘Ladies Day’ clash when Goondiwindi showed once again why they’re such a hard team to beat on the rugby field.
The frivolity being enjoyed on the sidelines was in stark contrast to the intensity on the field, as Condamine – down 22 points to nil – fought desperately inside Goondiwindi’s 22-metre line to finally put some points on the board.
For at least 20 minutes they threw everything at the Emus. It appeared as though the Cods forward pack had a never ending supply of Power brothers picking the ball from the base of the ruck and burrowing towards the try line.
When the waves of forwards didn’t work, Condamine tried flinging it wide through the silky hands of fly half Jack Hannah and inside centre Ben Geldard, but the backs were always wrapped up by Goondiwindi’s relentless defence.
Such is the strength of the Emus team that refuses to give in, even when a meagre meat pie to the opposition wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the game.
“It was pretty tough, right from the start. We knew it was going to be,” Cods captain Sam Warby told the Caller.
“It’s always tough against Gundy. We had plenty of opportunities but putting together the last piece of the puzzle was the problem. We’ll keep working on it.”
Eventually Condamine found seven points, but only after Goondiwindi’s tiring defenders’ discipline began to lapse. Hands started interfering in the ruck and fed up referee Gary Baker handed the Cods a penalty try in the dying minutes.
The final score in A-grade was 22-7 to Goondiwindi.
An upset in A-grade would have been a fairytale result at the Fish Tank, as the home teams had already beaten the Emus in both B and C-grade.
Condamine B-grade put on the some early tries and held a comfortable lead through their fast-paced encounter. The final score was 30-19.
And the Chinchilla River Rats put in a huge performance in C-grade, beating Goondiwindi for only the third time in their 11 years as a club with a score of 19-7. Chinchilla is now ahead of the Emus on the C-grade ladder.
Rats stalwart and man-of-the-match Dan Seator said beating Goondiwindi definitely called for celebration.
“It doesn’t happen too often, so when it does it’s bloody good,” Seator said.
“There’s a lot of strong heads there (in the Goondiwindi club) and a lot of experience. They’re just very good around the ruck and very tough.
“If you can get the ball and spin it wide you can get around them, but they’re good at keeping the ball in the ruck.
“It was unbelievable today. Everyone stepped up. Defence was unreal, everyone from wingers right through the forward park. We managed to shut them down.”
Goondiwindi A-grade captain Sam Tweedy perhaps put it best when he said “country rugby union looks like it’s in safe hands”, judging by the turnout at the Condamine Cods’ annual Ladies Day.
There were about 350 tickets sold for the ladies marquee but, including players and spectators in the public bar area, there would have been well over 500 people at the Fish Tank.
Looking around the car park it appeared that every one of the came in a Landcruiser, Prado or Hilux, as families and friends swarmed into Condamine from farming towns right across the district.
Live music, clothing and homewares stalls, barbecues and food vans accommodated a colourful crowd whose laughter became louder as the bubbly flowed and the afternoon wore on.
Following A-grade, a red faced handful of Cods players were ‘auctioned off’ to the hundreds of young women willing to make a bid.
The rugby was a good spectacle, but arguably not as good as seeing, late in the day, some of the ladies take part in a classic rugby team drinking game – the boat race.
Kick-ons continued with live music at the Condamine Hotel late into the night.