Orange Emus emerged from Saturday’s Blowes Clothing Cup major semi-final showdown with Bathurst Bulldogs battered and bruised, but to a man the greens couldn’t have been happier about it.
The 2018 minor premiers look to be saving their best for the right time of the season, triumphing 28-19 over a physical Bulldogs outfit at Endeavour Oval.
Jack Marchinton scored a brace while Nick Hughes-Clapp and Tom Goolagong both crossed for the hosts as the Emus club secured its fifth straight first grade grand final appearance and fourth straight Blowes Clothing Cup grand final day at Endeavour Oval.
“That was one of the most physical games I’ve played,” Marchinton said.
“I’m coming off bruised and battered, a lot of the boys are the same, but we’ve got the two weeks off to recover and work hard and knuckle down.”
Marchinton said his side had a point to prove against a Bulldogs outfit many have waxed lyrical about in the lead-up to Saturday’s grand final qualifier.
While the Dogs had momentum, Emus had experience – and it counted for plenty.
“The last month, someone said in the paper that we’ve been inconsistent, but I think we showed today, for the majority of the game, that we’re real contenders and can take this thing away,” he added.
“Having a home grand final again means the world to us. It’s pretty challenging for others to come here and play.”
Having a home grand final again means the world to us.Orange Emus flanker Jack Marchinton.
Emus dominated the early running of the match and while camped in Bulldogs’ half came up with an early try to open the scoring, but only went into the break leading 14-7.
That become 14-all shortly after half-time, before the greens added another two converted tries to lead 28-14.
Although Scott Johnston scored for Bulldogs late in the piece, Emus held on to seal victory.
“Emus countered us really well, they knew what we were going to do,” Bulldogs centre Harry Webber said.
“I think it was a good exhibition, there was just a few small moments where some big players stood up.
For many of the Bulldogs boys, it was their first taste of a major semi-final – but Webber said nerves, or inexperience, didn’t play a part.
“We trained well and we were keen to get into it. But credit to Emus, they showed us how to get it done,” he added.
“We’ll look to next week now … we’re very confident back at Bathurst. We’ve been aiming all year to get a win here, though, and hopefully we get another bite at the cherry.”
Marchinton was tremendous for the victors, as was skipper Nigel Staniforth and the Emus front-row of Matt Findlay, Goolagong, Nas Havealeta and Michael Graham.