Macquarie Raiders have held on to claim a thrilling win in an entertaining clash with the Wellington Cowboys on Sunday afternoon at Apex Oval.
The two sides met in round 11 of the Peter McDonald Premiership at was the hosts who came away with a 36-30 win.
Following the game, Macquarie backrower Zac Williams was impressed with the Raiders' defensive efforts.
"It was tough, Wellington definitely came out firing," he said.
"Those two big fellas were good and towards the end, I think we defended well."
Wellington's Randel Dowling was one of his sides' best players during the match but knows the Cowboys are capable of better performances.
"It was a tough effort, silly errors and penalties are letting us down," he said.
"In the first half we've been talking about not letting them score in the last 20 minutes and letting the game get away from us but we did it again.
"It's something we need to work on, if we get everyone to training I think we will get there in the end."
Things got off to the perfect start for Wellington as Ken Everson crossed in the fifth minute of the match with Dowling converting the front rower's try to give the Cowboys a 6-0 lead.
Minutes later Macquarie scored a try of their own through Kane McDermott who darted over from dummy-half to get his side on the board as Blake Merritt converted the try.
Macquarie's outside back started to find space out wide and EJ Fernando made the most of the extra room to score the Raiders' second try of the day.
However, the Cowboys hit back through Everson who scored his second try of the day with the kick again going through the posts as Wellington lead 12-10.
It was a day to remember for Raiders prop Seaun Stanley as the debutant scored in his first match in the top grade and more importantly got his side back in front with Corey Cox this time converting the try.
A late try to Clayton Couley extend Macquarie's lead further leading into halftime but Cox was soon sin-binned just minutes from the break.
Wellington failed to capitalise on some good field position late in the half as the Raiders went into the break leading 22-12.
Wellington hit back in the 54th minute through Mac Dutfield before Dowling regathered his own grubber to score a try minutes later and with both kicks being successful, Macquarie would lead 32-24 with 18 minutes remaining.
Colt Ure powered through a gap in the Wellington defence to score and extend the Raiders' lead to 12 points but it wouldn't last.
A brilliant Justin Toomey-White offload put Brian Baxter into space, with the centre racing away to score and Dowling once again converted the try.
With the score 36-30 in favour of the Raiders, Wellington would be parked down Macquarie's end of the field for the final eight minutes of the match but couldn't score with a late knock-on sealing the result as full time sounded.
For Williams, he couldn't have been prouder of his forward pack on Sunday.
"It was physical, especially with what they have, their forward pack is good and I think ours matched them," he said.
Without Josh Merritt, youngster Blake Merritt stepped into the halves and Williams thought the five-eighth produced a strong game.
"Blake (Merritt) came in for Josh (Merritt) and I think he stood up,"
"His kicking game was great."
Just a handful of games into his time at the Raiders, Williams admitted he is enjoying his new club as they push towards the finals.
"It's very welcoming, I'm grateful for 'Acka' (Alex Ronayne) to give me the opportunity," he said.
On the other hand, Dowling believes Wellington's best is still yet to come over the remaining rounds of football.
"It's been a tough season so far especially with so many players leaving," he said.
"We've got a lot of young guys in the side and we are still gelling together.
"We are swapping positions every week or having players injured or not showing up.
"Other than that it's been tough, it's probably a mentality thing we need to work on.
"Rugby league is a mindset game and we'll get there in the end."
The Cowboys have been constantly improving all season, something which has been evident over the last few weeks after close games with Dubbo CYMS and Macquarie.
With Lithgow awaiting them next week, Dowling knows the confidence is there for Wellington.
"We are not far from a win, we played Dubbo CYMS a few weeks ago and from that defeat, I think we had a bit more confidence going into this week," he said.
"That helped a lot."
MACQUARIE RAIDERS 36 (EJ Fernando 2, Kane McDermott, Seaun Stanley, CJ Ralph, Colt Ure, Clayton Couley tries; Corey Cox 2, Blake Merritt 2 goals) defeated WELLINGTON COWBOYS 30 (Ken Everson 2, Mac Dutfield, Brian Baxter, Randel Dowling tries; Dowling 5 goals)
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