ORANGE City lock Mitch Pearce loves local derbies.
The fire and the passion.
The hits are bigger, the tries more spectacular and the atmosphere is electric; there’s no better game to play in.
Orange City takes on crosstown rivals Orange Emus tomorrow at Pride Park in the first Orange derby of the Blowes Clothing Cup season.
For Pearce, it’s a game he has been looking forward to since securing his place in the Lions’ first XV, stepping into the boots of injured second-rower Josh Maley, who is out for the season with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
Currently, bragging rights belong to Orange City following John Colgan’s last-ditch try in the Lions’ 27-25 win over Emus at Endeavour Oval in the elimination final last season.
Pearce said he was wary of an Emus outfit looking to atone for last year’s finals loss.
“They won’t lay down and it’s always a good game,” Pearce said.
“They’ll be hard to beat. I can’t wait. It’s a big match atmosphere and everybody comes to watch.”
Lions coach Steve Hamson, however, said it was important his side didn’t get caught up in the emotion behind the derby.
If they did, Emus would take advantage.
“I think there’s all the carry-on that goes with these games, but I think the last couple of years have shown no matter how bad the other side is going they always seem to lift,” Hamson warned.
With that in mind, Hamson said he would work hard to ensure his side was switched on come kick-off.
And Pearce is shaping up as a key player in the pack.
“He has really stepped it up this season and taken his chances,” Hamson said.
“He is that year older and is probably playing some of the best footy I’ve seen him play in the three years I’ve been here.”
Albeit, in a position that’s largely foreign to the 26-year-old.
“I’m a breakaway usually,” Pearce said.
“They chucked me in there this year when Josh got injured. They’ve kept me there now.
“I’m having great fun this year.”
Orange City is heading into tomorrow’s clash undefeated through eight competition rounds.
Emus aren’t too far behind in third and pose Orange City with arguably its toughest test so far this year.
The Lions take on Emus from 3.15pm at Pride Park tomorrow.
ORANGE CITY: 1 Nathan Short, 2 Josh Tremain, 3 John Colgan, 4 Mitch Pearce, 5 Chris Barrett, 6 Gus Brotherton, 7 Duncan Young, 8 Dan Johnson, 9 Nick Quinn, 10 Michael Sparks, 11 Sione Lafo’ou, 12 Maesui Lomoto, 13 Ben Mills, 14 Taylor Smith, 15 Sam Powell.