A STIRRING second-half defensive display propelled Orange City to consecutive Blowes Clothing Cup first grade premierships on Saturday.
The 32-16 victory over Parkes Boars confirmed the Lions’ status amongst the Central West’s greatest teams, punctuating another undefeated season to go with their 2012 effort.
As with so many of their victories over the past two seasons, it was based on their work without the ball.
In the quarter of an hour after half time Parkes, trailing 24-11, set up camp inside the hosts’ 20-metre line.
The Boars unleashed wave after wave of attack at the Lions, at one stage racking up 12 uninterrupted phases of play.
It was to no avail.
The Orange City wall remained in tact and Parkes’ spirits, already fragile, were completely broken when City’s captain Michael Sparks orchestrated the match-sealing try for outside centre Sam Coote after the hosts had absorbed the pressure.
It was a monumental effort by the defending premiers, one which co-coach Andy Hillan credited with their retention of the region’s most coveted rugby silverware.
“Parkes just kept coming and coming and we just held on,” Hillan said.
“It was a massive effort from the boys and one which ultimately won us the game.
“When we scored on the back of holding them out you could just tell they knew it was over.”
Given the way the game started, it was to the Boars’ credit they were able to put themselves in a position to challenge in the game’s latter stages.
The Lions started with typical attacking intent, with Coote and Sparks racing in a try each before five minutes had elapsed.
With Mesui Lemoto adding all available extras, a one-sided contest was on the cards.
But Parkes regrouped, first via a try to second-rower Israel Symington and then through a penalty goal to captain Dan Ryan.
They were aided by a glut of penalties and good field position, as the hosts struggled with their discipline and ball control after their opening onslaught.
In the middle stages of the half Lemoto and Ryan traded penalty goals, taking the score to 17-11.
Had it remained that at the interval, Boars mentor Heamani Lavaka would undoubtedly have been the happier of the coaches, with the visitors plan of playing tight to the ruck starting to pay dividends.
But in the shadows of the break Lions scrum-half Nick Quinn dummied and darted across the line from close range to extend his side’s advantage.
In a scrappy second half Lemoto added a further penalty goal to go with Coote’s second try before Boars’ replacement winger Cameron Standen grabbed a consolation five pointer with five minutes remaining.
Retiring front-rower Lavaka was graceful in defeat.
“We were playing catch up after that start and that was always going to be difficult,” he said.
“You can not afford to do that against a side like Orange City. They are too good.
“The best side won, the best side all year won, so we congratulate them.”
For the winners Sparks and Coote were electrifying in attack, the pivot having a key hand in all but Quinn’s effort while Coote timed his inputs to perfection.
The Boars were well served by halves pairing Johnny Rathbone and Mahe Fangupo, who tried hard to spark an otherwise largely listless attack.
ORANGE CITY LIONS 32 (Sam Coote 2, Michael Sparks, Nick Quinn tries, Mesui Lemoto 2 pens, Lemoto 3 convs) def PARKES BOARS 16 (Israel Symington, Cameron Standen tries, Dan Ryan 2 pens)