Casuarina’s march towards a seventh consecutive NT Rugby Union Grand Final appearance remains on track after inflicting a 45-5 victory over a gritty Palmerton last night at Rugby Park
Palmerston started the match enthusiastically against the competition leaders with possession and field position for the first ten minutes.
However Casuarina’s first foray into Croc territory almost resulted in points when Nate Lamb spilt the ball over the line.
Four minutes later the mercurial Ryan McMurray scampered over for a try and Lamb’s conversion gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead.
Palmerston were dealt a blow when Rhys Hitchcock was sin-binned and during his ten minute absence Casuarina crossed for two tries.
The first was to Joe Albert off a rolling maul from a line out which was quickly followed by one from Bobby Nurse off a quick penalty tap by Shane Crowley to Lamb and it was 19-0 when Hitchcock returned.
Loose forward Nurse scored again five minutes later to register his twelfth of the season and seemingly a stranglehold on the season’s leading try scorer award.
At 26-0 down and closing on half time Palmerston’s hope of a comeback were dealt another blow when Jay Jack was sent from the field for a dangerous tackle and the daunting prospect of playing the next 40 minutes a man down hung over the tri-colours.
Palmerston opened the scoring in the second half through a try to their captain Michael Kiliner which was negated a few minutes later by TJ Norris at the other end of the field.
Second Rower Gareth Norman took an intercept and galloped 60 metres to register the Cougars sixth try and a 38-5 lead with a quarter of the match remaining.
Samika Sala’a scored the Cougars final try with seven minutes remaining which Lamb converted from the sideline.
Palmerston fans should be happy with the commitment displayed by their side in the second half only conceding three tries with the handicap of being a player down.
Young Prop Thomas Roe didn’t take a backward step all night in the Croc’s front row while McMurray was outstanding for the Cougars.
In the other game University had a fight on their hands from the outset against Darwin Dragons with the Pirates securing an 18-14 victory late in the game.
The Dragons led 7-0 for much of the first half and will rue the defensive lapse right on half time that resulted in a try to Isaac Taulelei which was converted by Anthony Heal to level the scores at the break.
The Dragons earned a bonus point for the narrow loss to move three points clear of Palmerston in fourth place.
Casuarina 45: B Nurse 2, R McMurray, J Albert, TJ Norris, G Norman, S Sala’s Tries N Lamb 5 Conv
def Palmerton 5: M Killner Try
University 18: S Wauchope, I Taulelei Tries A Heal Conv, Pen H Turner Pen
Def Darwin Dragons 14: N Maher, L Walker Tries, D Seubert 2 Conv
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NT Rugby