ORANGE City put on three tries, but it was the team’s defence which won them the Blowes Clothing Cup colts grand final on Saturday.
Orange City recorded an 18-14 victory over CSU Bathurst at Pride Park in a game which produced a nail-biting finish.
The students had fought their way back to trail by four points and had the ball again with just over two minutes left on the clock.
No.8 and CSU captain Sam Robertson made a break and was eying off the try-line before City fullback Terry Brown made a try-saving tackle - his second for the day.
In the ensuing phases, CSU were able to get over the tryline, but some dogged City defence held them up.
Then, as the game went into injury time, City replacement Blake Hummerston was yellow carded and CSU took a tap five metres out from the Lions’ line.
They charged at the line a number of times, but the City boys were able to absorb it all.
Then they earned a penalty when a CSU player didn’t release the ball, and the City faithful erupted as they realised the premiership was theirs.
After such a tight victory, Orange City coach Anthony Sullivan had one word to describe how he felt - relief.
“They played their guts out,” Sullivan said.
“They defended really well. There was a lot of desperation tackles, which was the difference in the end.
“I made a few changes at the end there and disrupted it just to give everyone a run. I thought I might have pulled the string a bit early.”
Orange City looked great from the first whistle and scored after just 46 seconds after CSU knocked on from the kick-off.
The Lions gathered the dropped ball and pressured the line before half-back Tom Nell was able to dive through a gap to score.
The CSU scrum was put under pressure, with City stealing a number of their feeds.
City took an 8-0 lead into the break after captain Joe Alexander kicked a penalty goal mid-way through the first half.
It became 13-0 eight minutes into the second half when, on the back of repeat phases, replacement forward Blake Hummerston was able to charge in to score.
Then CSU lifted.
The Lions kicked the ball out on the full and CSU were rewarded with a line-out 15 metres from the City tryline.
A penalty for offside gave CSU a tap 10 metres from the line and Jack Gunther was eventually able to reach out and score, with Pat Hill’s conversion making it 13-7.
A try to Regan Skelton extended City’s lead to 18-7, but the students kept coming.
With four minutes left on the clock, CSU hooker Justin Picker was able to burrow his way over the line and Hill didn’t miss the conversion.
Then the City defence earned them the grand final win.
CSU captain Sam Robertson said it was a heartbreaking game to lose.
“I really thought we were going to win it, but when we got held up that was it,” Robertson said.
“Our second half we just kept coming at them. Credit to them for keeping us out. They really held up their defence.”
Despite being disappointed to lose, robertson said the team had enjoyed the season.
“It’s been probably the most enjoyable year of rugby for me,” he said.
“A lot of the boys didn’t know each other and we came together and went to the grand final and gave it a good crack.”
Sullivan was happy with his players across the park and praised the work of the boys in the set pieces and at the breakdown.
Orange City added the grand final victory to their minor premiership.
ORANGE CITY LIONS 18 (Tom Nell, Blake Hummerston, Regan Skelton tries; Joe Alexander pen goal) def CSU BATHURST 14 (Jack Gunther, Justin Picker tries; Pat Hill 2 conv)