THE NSW Country Cockatoos breathed fire into a cold winter afternoon with a thumping 48-5 victory over the ACT Brumbies Provincial XV at Bathurst’s Ashwood Park on Saturday.
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Walcha’s Soni Halanukonuka looks for a hole in the Brumbies Provincial defence playing for NSW Country at Bathurst on Saturday. Photo: Chris Seabrook, Western Advocate.

The Cockatoos scored several tries from attacking plays which began in their own half, Country star Pauli Tuala and Simon Newton both bagging a brace.

Country’s speed was their most impressive asset, particularly in the opening half.

They constantly hit the line hard and found gaps in the Brumbies’ defence with ease.

That pace may have dropped off in the back half of the game – and the Brumbies’ attack looked far more threatening as a consequence – but the Cockatoos still kept the scoreboard ticking over.

“We tried today to dominate the breakdown and that’s when we really got on the front foot,” Country coach Mat Thomas said.

“We had to change our plan completely yesterday because when we got here it wasraining.

“We had to adapt to a shorter game plan – we had a wider one that we wanted to play.

“The ground was very heavy and slippery and that’s why we saw a lot of knock-ons and scrums.”

When hooker Steve Lamont dived over for a try just four minutes into the game, it set the tone for what was to come from the Cockatoos.

Cowra’s Chris Miller drew cheers from Central West supporters when he made a break down the left side of the field. He then dished the ball off to Tuala, who put the hosts 10-0 up.

At the 17-minute mark Country had just as many points to their name thanks to a try from scrum half Adam McCormack.

Shortly after, Brumbies had two chances to get on the board but they came up empty-handed after being forced over the sideline then knocking-on.

Instead Tuala added another for Country to give them a 22-0 lead at half-time.

The Cockatoos picked things up where they left off when play resumed as Michael Howell scored.

But the Brumbies lifted in defence after that and finally enjoyed some quality time in possession.

The visitors struggled to find a way through, but the pressure they applied led to Tuala being sent to the sinbin for hands in the ruck.

Brumbies winger Riley Brennan dropped the ball close to the try line but he didn’t make the same mistake when given another chance, diving over in the left corner to make it 29-5.

However, Country showed their attacking prowess by scoring via Newton while still a man down.

Both sides struggled to maintain possession in a scrappy last 20 minutes of the game but, after withstanding another period of Brumbies attack, Country finished with a bang.

Tries inside the final 10 minutes to Dubbo’s Filisione Pauta and Newton extended their already sizeable lead.

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