DUBBO Kangaroos ensured Orange City were thoroughly tested in their Blowes Clothing Cup clash on Saturday.
Still, the Lions were able to come out on top and keep their unbeaten run going with a 27-26 victory at Pride Park.
Lions coach Steve Hamson said the Roos left a lasting impression on the competition leaders.
“They’re a good side. They’re the best side we’ve played all year I think,” Hamson said.
The first 20 minutes was an arm wrestle and the only points came from a penalty goal to Lions centre Mesui Lomoto.
The ‘Roos were first to cross the stripe 23 minutes in when winger Mark Peteru scored and Josh Dodd converted for a 7-3 lead.
It lasted just over three minutes before Lions flyhalf Michael Sparks found a gap on the Dubbo line and skipped through to score.
However, the ‘Roos took a 14-10 lead to the break thanks to a try to hooker Peter Nau who pushed his way over on the back of repeat phases on the City line.
The first 10 minutes of the second half made the difference for the Lions.
Winger Sione “Junior” Lafo’ou, No.8 John Colgan and prop Nathan Short all scored entertaining tries and pushed the Lions out to a 29-14 lead.
First, Shaun McHugh scored in the right corner, again on the back of repeat pressure on the City line.
Then, with just under 15 minutes left in the game, Dubbo found an overlap and centre Charlie Luteru jogged over.
Dodd’s conversion made it 27-26 and the two sides battled out the dying minutes with no change in the score.
“We played good footy in patches but just gave away some silly penalties. It kept them in the game and gave them field position,” Hamson lamented.
“I thought when we had the ball we controlled it well. We’ve been trying to put a lot of phases together and we came with the intention of trying to shift it wide and when we had the ball we did try and do that. So that was good.”
Dubbo coach Abram Duffy was happy with his side’s performance despite the result not going their way.
“We had a game plan and we stuck to it today,” Duffy said.
“We were unlucky that we had a lapse in concentration for 10 minutes at the start of the second half. That sort of let Orange City off the hook a bit.”
Duffy added he was pleased his team was able to come back and get so close to the competition leaders.
The Dubbo mentor commended captain Shaun McHugh, flyhalf Josh Dodd, fullback Edward Bates, centre Charlie Luteru and flanker Todd Stewart.
Angus Brotherton got through a mountain of work at flanker for the Lions and the second row of Chris Barrett and Mitch Pearce was solid.
Lomoto was consistent in the backs for Orange City.
ORANGE CITY 27 (Michael Sparks, Sione “Junior” Lafo’ou, John Colgan, Nathan Short tries; Mesui Lomoto 2 conv, pen goal) def DUBBO KANGAROOS 26 (Mark Peteru, Peter Nau, Shaun McHugh, Charlie Luteru tries; Joshua Dodd 3 conv).