ORANGE Emus have announced themselves as Blowes Clothing Cup contenders following a brilliant 27-5 bonus-point win over last year’s runners-up Parkes.
Played at Endeavour Oval on Saturday, the home side was staunch in defence and glittering in attack, with pivots TJ Cunynghame and Adam Perri unleashing a throng of lethal outside backs that’ll have the rest of the competition on notice.
Playing down his side’s standing following two wins and a narrow loss to Bathurst Bulldogs in the opening three rounds of the season, Emus mentor Andrew Logan said, while thrilled with Saturday’s result, there’s still plenty of improvement left in his firing outfit.
“We’re at the beginning of a long season,” Logan said.
“We’re very happy with the win. We knew the first four weeks of this competition were very tough for us.
“We’ve got Dubbo away next week, so we’ve still got work to do and there’s a long season ahead and a lot of things can happen, so we’re just very happy we’ve put ourselves in a position to go forward.”
"We delivered today. Our forwards definitely need a big pat on the back. They played very, very good rugby"
The first half of Saturday’s clash was a slug-fest.
Aside from the odd flash of brilliance from Parkes’ dynamic five-eighth Mahe Fangupo, the ball rarely left the forwards as both teams peppered the middle using giants like Boars’ prop Amoni Vea and his Emu counterpart Nas Havealeta as battering rams.
Stunning their highly-touted Parkes rivals including Blue Bulls Dan Ryan, Israel Symington and Vea, Emus’ no-frills pack got the upper hand.
It was then over to the backs.
Breaking the game open on the verge of half-time, winger Tom Green found space then deftly off-loaded for the supporting Alo Finau to crash over next to the posts.
Perri potted the conversion and the home side led Parkes 7-0 at the break.
Missing two earlier penalty attempts in the opening half, Perri found his range in the second to extend Emus’ lead to 10 with a three-pointer in the 47th minute before, again, the home team turned it on out wide.
Letting it sing, Emus spread the ball to the right to speedster Carter Hirini who broke several would-be Boars defenders before popping a lovely pass to skipper Nigel Staniforth who did the rest to score a cracking Emus try.
A Green five-pointer shortly after and a successful Perri conversion took Emus out to 22-0 and, with 25 minutes still remaining and Parkes in tatters, it looked as though the home side would rack up a big score on home soil.
But after a string of three-consecutive penalties the hulking Vea threw his weight around to barge over the Emus line to score.
That, though, was as good as it got for Parkes.
Emus rubbed salt in the Boars’ wounds, out-muscling them up front to wrap up the bonus point win with a Brent Braithwaite push-over try in injury time to seal a 27-5 victory and a place in the competition’s top five.
Parkes coach Trevor Whitaker said it was a tough day at the office for his outfit but, not taking anything away from the victors, added Emus were the real deal in 2014.
“Absolutely. They’re a good side. We’ve had some good close battles and they’ve got a good side here today. It’s going to be quiet a tight competition,” Whitaker said.
“We knew it was going to be tough coming over here. They’re a good side and their backs really carved us up. It was pretty tough.”
Logan heaped praise on his forwards, particularly locks Tom Fenuelelei and Sam McLean as well as backrowers Alo Finau, Sam Chaberlain and Shane Udy.
The punch his pack provided through the middle of Parkes’ forwards was something Emus lacked immensely throughout a wooden-spoon 2013.
“We talked about that before, and we asked the forwards to make a real commitment to the scrum and a real commitment to carrying the ball forward,” Logan revealed.
“A lot of times teams talk about that but they don’t necessarily deliver. I think we delivered today. Our forwards definitely need a big pat on the back. They played very, very good rugby,”
ORANGE EMUS 27 (Alo Finau, Brent Braithwaite, Nigel Staniforth, Tom Green tries; Adam Perri 2 conv, pen goal) def PARKES BOARS 5 (Amoni Vea try).