Thanks to a huge defensive effort early and a four-try blitz in the second half, Orange Emus picked up their second consecutive win of the Blowes Clothing Cup season on Saturday afternoon, downing the young, valiant Bathurst Bulldogs 33-12.
Bulldogs’ scrum was superb and their backline slick as they looked the better side for much of the opening 40 minutes, but the greens defended their way to a narrow, two-point lead at the break before clicking after half-time and running away with the clash, outscoring the Bathurst side 26-7 in the second half.
“The longer the game went on the better we got,” Staniforth said.
“It was pretty tight there at the start but we thought it would be, they’re a pretty fit team and we’re still getting our cohesion with a lot of new players, and just getting used to how we play.
“(In the second half) I think we got a bit more aggressive and started getting through them a bit.”
The opening half was manic, and an out-and-out war of attrition. Although both sides had their chances, it took 35 minutes before either outfit troubled the scorers, Emus drawing first blood through a converted Tom Green try.
Bulldogs hit back almost immediately though, Harry Webber taking advantage of the front foot ball his side’s pack earned by monstering Emus’ scrum to cross, but Will Oldham’s attempt to add the extras sailed just wide.
The two sides traded tries after the break with Green scoring his second before Bulldogs fullback-come-second-rower Justin Mobbs produced a stunning individual effort to bust several would-be Emus defenders and dive over.
But, in a huge moment, Mobbs copped an accidental shot to the face in scoring the try and suffered a suspected fractured cheekbone, ruling him out of the rest of the clash.
With Emus leading 14-12, that’s when the tide turned.
The greens’ scrum began moving forward and their line-out was on song with Nick Hughes-Clapp, Jayden Norris and Harry Hamilton pinching plenty of Bulldogs’ ball.
On the back of one of their steals Nas Havealeta burrowed over in the 53rd minute and then Jack Marchinton scored the first of his second-half brace six minutes later.
He crossed again in the 74th minute to push Emus’ lead out to 21, capping his man-of-the-match effort in the process.
”Emus demonstrated how good they are under pressure … the game was in the balance and they put us away,” Bulldogs coach Dean Oxley said.
“I thought we had an outstanding first half then coming into the second half, unfortunately we just didn’t get the job done. Our line-out was struggling, our scrum was strong but it wasn’t quite there.
“There’s a lot of potential. I want Bathurst winning the competition and I still believe we can win, we’re just going to take each week as it comes and take steps forward.
“I believe we’ve got the skillset, but maybe not the composure at this point. We’re going to work on our decision-making under pressure. Some of our decisions at times meant that we applied pressure to ourselves, when we should’ve been doing that to Emus.”
- ORANGE EMUS 33 (Tom Green 2, Jack Marchington 2, Nas Havealeta tries, Nigel Staniforth 4 conv) def BATHURST BULLDOGS 12 (Harry Webber, Justin Mobbs tries, Will Oldham conv)