WELCOME to derby week.
Both Orange City and Orange Emus are riding high in the 2012 Blowes Clothing Cup, with the former undefeated on top of the competition ladder after eight rounds and the latter sitting in third courtesy of five wins and three losses.
If lead-up form is anything to go by, Saturday’s all Orange encounter at Pride Park, the first rugby derby of 2012, will be one for the ages.
Last year Emus had the wood over the Lions.
They completed the derby double in beating Orange City at both Pride Park and Endeavour Oval throughout the regular season.
The Lions, however, won when it mattered most.
Orange City stole Emus’ thunder and in turn ended their derby rivals’ 2011 campaign courtesy of a last minute come-from-behind 27-25 victory in the Blowes Clothing Cup’s elimination final last season.
The loss still eats away at Emus.
On Saturday, they have a point to prove.
“I definitely think so. We want those bragging rights over City,” Emus forward Tom Goolagong said.
“You know everyone is going to do everything they can to win a local derby. It’s a completely different game.”
City, so far in 2012, haven’t really been tested.
But derbies, and the 2012 Blowes Clothing Cup goes derby mad in round nine with Bathurst’s Bulldogs and CSU facing off and Roos and Rhinos clashing in the battle of Dubbo, are not ordinary competition games.
“You just know the boys are going to be up for it,” Goolagong said.
By and large, Emus hopes of springing an upset over the Lions hinge on whether or not a host of injured players return.
Skipper and inside centre Andrew Swain is in some doubt with a rib problem while fly-half Nigel Staniforth re-injured his knee in his return match against Narromine this season and might miss Saturday’s important derby.
Fullback Graydon Staniforth is also nursing a quadricep injury.
Take the 10, 12 and 15 out of any side in the competition and the team will struggle.
Emus, though, have managed. And more importantly, they’ve won.
“I think we always knew we could win those games,” Goolagong said looking back at wins over premiers Parkes, Dubbo Roos, the Eagles at Cowra and Narromine.
“Even with a few new recruits out the guys stepping up have been part of Emus for a long time. We had the faith that we’d get the job done. We’ve been able to tough it out for the early part of the season.”