ORANGE City’s preparation for the round one, grand final rematch with the Boars in Parkes has taken a hit, with the two-time undefeated Blowes Clothing Cup premiers suffering a trial loss to Orange Emus last Saturday.
Not prepared to read a great deal into trial form following the loss to the Greens and Endeavour Oval, City co-coach Mick Gray said with a far from ideal pre-season now behind his Lions, the 2014 squad’s attention was now on the Boars.
“To be quite honest (pre-season) hasn’t been as good as we’d hoped,” Gray said, with a host of the club’s best players missing last Saturday’s final trial.
“Trial form doesn’t mean a lot. We had a number of players missing with Central West, both in the seniors and colts and I think Emus only had a few colts players in the rep teams.
“We’ve had a few guys unavailable for most of the trials and then there’s still a few away for the opening rounds of the competition.
“We’re not making any excuses though.”
A lot like Gray, Orange Emus coach Andrew Logan wasn’t reading too much into the trial.
“For us, it was a good hit-out, but it was an Orange City side I didn’t recognise,” Logan said.
“We were able to finalise a number of combinations and managed to pick a reasonably strong first grade side heading into a huge task against the Bulldogs in Bathurst.”
Amid the raft of Orange City players currently overseas playing rugby in the Netherlands, Gray has been impressed with newcomers Steve Levett and Cameron Cole, with both set to be named in the Lions side for the round one trip to Parkes.
Levett is a backrower from Albury and Cole has come from the Manly Warringah Rugby Club and will play on the wing for Orange City.
With the team’s 38-game unbeaten run on the line, Gray added the wealth of experience likely to be unavailable for this Saturday’s opening round will mean his side’s already tough round one assignment against Parkes will become a massive challenge.
“It does. They’re a good team and they had six or seven players in the senior side for Central West,” Gray said.
“They’ll be match hardened and we’ll probably be a little underdone.
“It’ll be very interesting, we struggle up there at the best of times.”
The opening round of the 2014 Blowes Clothing Cup season kicks off on Saturday.