Orange Emus skipper Nigel Staniforth admits his side is battling complacency after its 40-0 thumping over CSU Bathurst on Saturday.
The greens scored six unanswered tries in the round six win at Endeavour Oval to wrap up a bonus point and solidify its position at the top of the Blowes Clothing Cup standings, but only one of those five-pointers came in the second period, where both sides battled the dropsies.
It was the sort of display you’d expect from CSU Bathurst, the students battled gallantly against the two-time defending premiers in what was a monumental mismatch, physically.
But for Emus, the panic and wavering intensity, Staniforth says, is of some concern leading into a bumper month of rugby.
Emus take on Parkes, Dubbo Roos and Bathurst Bulldogs in the next three rounds.
“We’ve had some big scores .... I think we’ll enjoy it,” Staniforth said looking ahead to Emus’ challenging three-round run.
“And that’s the main thing. You get a little bit complacent … we’re working hard on that.
“If (the opposition) does come hard, we’ll enjoy it.”
Not deterred by a winless start to the 2017 season and a tough road trip to Endeavour Oval, CSU Bathurst’s start was promising.
Looking to compete, more than anything, Scott Hatch’s outfit did just that, restricting Emus to two tries in the opening quarter of the match – Staniforth and Levi Russell crossing for the hosts to shoot the greens out to a 14-0 lead.
But, as we’ve seen throughout the opening six weeks of the premiership, few sides’ defensive fortitude can withhold Emus in full flight.
With all the momentum, Emus raced in tries through Carter Hirini, Scott McLean and Andrew Selwood in the blink of an eye to turn, for CSU, a promising start into a looming blow out at 33-0, the scoreline at the break.
But, the second half failed to deliver any great rugby.
Emus and CSU both battled to retain possession in a dour 40 minutes, the hosts lone success coming in the form of a Tom Green try, the hairy winger on the end of a sweeping backline move that would have looked more appropriate during a fairly clinical opening term.
Still, despite not scoring any points, CSU’s mentor Hatch was a relatively pleased coach.
“We’re getting better every week, and that’s the big positive,” he said, highlighting a 7-0 scoreline in the second half.
“And that’s where we’ve been letting ourselves down. We’re definitely heading in the right direction, the enthusiasm is there, the structure is there … we’re just making a few mistakes.”
For CSU, fullback Lochie Robinson looking likely when injected into the backline, while hooker Anthony Nougher was in the face of Emus’ pack all second half.
Even if that did mean he was completely leveled after running straight at greens prop Nas Havealeta – stop the fight, we’ve got a winner for hit of the season right there.
“I think we played better than they expected,” Hatch said.
“And I think our boys are starting to rise and get that understanding. Hopefully in the second half of the season the results will come.”
Staniforth was confident Emus would improve on a number of facets leading into the next month, not the least of which was a penchant to push the pass.
“Guys were just panicking and guys were at different intensities and it really killed us,” he said.
“We were making busts and guys were just trying to score off first phase. We needed patience.
“We’re pumped for (the next few games), we spoke about it (after the game). We’ll forget about that game and we’re on to Parkes and Dubbo, it’s a big two weeks.”
Andrew Selwood was strong for the hosts on the side of the scrum, while AJ Sykes looked impressive at fly-half for Emus.
ORANGE EMUS 40 (Scott McLean, Levi Russell, Nigel Staniforth, Carter Hirini, Andrew Selwood, Tom Green tries; Nigel Staniforth 5 conv) def CSU BATHURST 0