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The Wellington Cowboys have made a statement in the opening two rounds of the 2023 Peter McDonald Premiership.

They opened their campaign at home against Lithgow Wolves and landed an impressive 20-12 victory.

“We knew it was going to be a tough Lithgow outfit coming to Wellington,” said Cowboys captain-coach Justin Toomey-White.

“We put in a big pre-season, got good numbers to training, and we had a good trial against Parkes leading into our first game.

“Lithgow beat us convincingly last year, but our boys played awesome and to our expectation, and we got a good win.”

The Cowboys backed their first round effort up with a gritty 18-16 victory over the Bathurst’s St Pats.

“Bathurst was going to be tough coming off a hard-fought win over Nyngan, and we were prepared for them,” Toomey-White said.

“They recruited well, and they have a Western Division and Group 10 fullback (Jackson Brien), quality halves, and a big, physical forward pack. But our boys stood up and handled the occasion.

“It was tough for the 80 minutes - a real grind - and they scored with two minutes to go, and another play at the end of the game to win, but we held them out.”

Wellington’s impressive start to the season is a far cry from last year’s efforts, where the Cowboys won just one game during a campaign that almost crippled the club.

“Coming off only one win last year, it was a tough season for the players, club, and the community,” Toomey-White said.

Photos: Jo Ivey - Wellington Cowboys RLFC
Photos: Jo Ivey - Wellington Cowboys RLFC

“In Wellington, it’s more than rugby league, and we came out of last year with just one sponsor, and teams were playing in four and five-year-old jerseys, and we had no training gear just to keep the club alive.

“Our results so far come back to everyone buying in and knowing the community needs this club.

“The committee put in a lot of hard work to get sponsors and a full complement of training and playing gear, and all the boys and girls are working hard to keep this club going because the kids coming through need players and teams to look up to, so one day, they come through and play for the club.”

Toomey-White has a young, local side, and he heaped praise on a playing group that has largely remained the same from last year through to their current campaign.

 “I’ve said it numerous times - we know what we are capable of doing… we set ourselves some goals at the start of preseason, and I asked everyone to buy in and trust the process,” Toomey-White said.

Following back-to-back crossover rounds to start the season, the Peter McDonald Premiership will see Group 10 and 11 teams back playing rivals in their respective Groups until two more crossover rounds in Rounds Eight and Nine.

The unbeaten Cowboys will have their mettle tested in Round Three when trekking to Dubbo to take on arch-rivals, the top of the table CYMS.

PMP Round Two results: Wellington Cowboys 18 def Bathurst St Pat’s 16, Parkes Spacemen 34 def Bathurst Panthers 6, Forbes Magpies 40 def Orange CYMS 12, Dubbo CYMS 32 def Lithgow Wolves 8, Nyngan Tigers 40 def Orange Hawkes 12, Mudgee Dragons 24 def Dubbo Macquarie Raiders 22.

PMP Round Three draw: April 29: Bathurst St Pat’s v Bathurst Panthers at Carrington Park, Orange CYMS v Mudgee Dragons at Wade Park; April 30: Dubbo CYMS v Wellington Cowboys at Apex Oval, Nyngan Tigers v Parkes Spacemen at Larkin Oval, Forbes Magpies v Dubbo Macquarie Raiders at Spooner Oval, Orange Hawks v Lithgow Wolves at Wade Park.

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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