WADE PARK was on Sunday transformed into the 'Kingdome'.
Dominating the first all-Orange derby of the 2014 Group 10 season with a try and a hand in three others in CYMS’ 42-24 win over Hawks, former South Sydney Rabbitohs winger Matt King put on a show for the packed Wade Park crowd in a man-of-the-match performance.
A one-off game for the Rabbitohs assistant coach, King labelled the cameo performance as a “really fun afternoon”.
“It’s always nice to play well when you play a game of footy,” King said following the round one victory, scoring his try off a lovely Warick Colley cross-field bomb in the 28th minute to put CYMS up 16-12.
“I haven’t caught a cross-field kick for a little while so that was nice, and then the back end of the game they got a little bit tired ... it was nice to win.”
Running on at fullback for CYMS, King’s involvement was first class.
That same class was all over Hawks halfback Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill early on too.
The dynamic half split the green and golds defence after just six minutes to put Hawks up 6-nil before a rampaging Zac Bohan got one back on his former club with his first try in CYMS colours to lock up the scores at 6-all.
CYMS then got their second through Jarrod Robbins and, when Ben McAlpine’s second 40-20 of the first-half gifted his side more attacking territory, the hosts looked to have the ascendency.
No one told that to Gibbs-O’Neill though.
Plucking a Colley cut-out pass intended for King out of nowhere, the Hawks No.7 raced 90 metres to score a classic intercept try to again draw the scores level after 23 minutes.
Colley bounced back, though, his cross-field bomb to King giving the green and golds the lead, albeit briefly, at 16-12 before a beautifully constructed Hawks try finished of by Alofi Mataele and a sideline conversion from Brock McGarity right on halftime put the two blues in front by two going into the sheds.
“He’s pretty outstanding. He just showed the polish at the end ... You don’t play for Australia for no reason. He’s a class act"
The second period, however, belonged to King.
Setting up three of his side’s five second-half four-pointers, the rangy fullback was the orchestrator behind the defending premiers’ 26-6 final period.
Injured CYMS captain-coach Mick Sullivan said having King in green and gold was a huge plus for his side.
“All of the boys said he was a pleasure to play with,” Sullivan said.
“He’s pretty outstanding. He just showed the polish at the end. He gets around blokes. You try and teach it, but you’ve got to see it to realise how important it is.
“You don’t play for Australia for no reason. He’s a class act.”
Showing all the wares of a ball-playing fullback, King showed great skill to put winger Semisi Katoa over twice in the second half to all but put to bed any chance of a Hawks derby triumph to kick-start 2014.
Were those skills wasted on the wing in the NRL?
“I’m not sure if you saw how much I was blowing there towards the end,” King laughed.
“Hanging on the wing, I was a lazy bugger. Maybe if I come out to the bush I’ll play fullback but if something weird happened and I ever played NRL again I’d be straight back out to the edge, don’t worry about that.”
King said he’d keep tabs on how CYMS perform over the course of the season.
The 33-year-old added while it was a rusty performance from all involved, that’s to be expected in the opening game of any competition.
“First game, there was a fair bit of rust. We dropped a bit of ball in the first half but as soon as we held the ball we tired them out. I thought we went okay. They’ve got some really big boys,” he said.
“Sully is one of my best mates so I’ll keep a close eye on what he’s up to.”
ORANGE CYMS 42 (Semisi Katoa 2, Matt King, Zac Bohan, Jarrod Robbins, Sam Hill, Luke Coleman, Ben McAlpine tries; McAlpine 5 goals) def ORANGE HAWKS 24 (Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill 2, Alofi Mataele, Pat Velkoso tries; Brock McGarity 4 goals).