THE MUDGEE Dragons have opened up a four-point gap at the top of the Group 10 table following their win over Orange CYMS and Bathurst St Pat’s loss to Orange Hawks.
The Dragons out-muscled the defending premiers at Glen Willow on Sunday, winning comfortably 34-10, while at Wade Park, Hawks fought back from 20-0 down to win 22-20.
In the match of the round, the Dragons showed why they were undefeated after eight rounds with a physical performance over CYMS.
They set up the victory, the first over CYMS since July 2012, with a brilliant first half performance where they led 22-4 at the break.
Dragons’ centre Corin Smith, easily the form player in the competition, scored a hat-trick to take his total to 19 tries in eight matches, the eighth consecutive match he has bagged a double or more.
Mudgee player-coach Jack Afamasaga had plenty of praise for his try-scoring machine.
“I said to him before the game you have to carry us and he goes ‘rightio’,” Afamasaga said.
Smith opened the scoring when he burned his defenders on the outside with his speed.
Afamasaga made it 10-0 when he crossed the line following a penalty to the Dragons because of swearing.
With 20 minutes gone, Smith plucked an intercept and the Western Rams representative raced away 90 metres to score.
While CYMS were attacking Mudgee’s line, half-back Michael Sullivan went to the left and his short ball found Tim Bassmann running a good hole to score Orange’s first points.
Shortly after CYMS’ Semisi Kuta was ruled to have made a double movement and was penalised.
It costs the green and golds as on the next set, Mudgee fullback Ben Thompson used some fancy footwork to score Mudgee’s fourth try just before half-time.
CYMS could have been first to score in the second half but Tom Stonestreet, on for injured Warick Colley, had the ball stripped in the in-goal.
It was a double blow for CYMS as Mudgee scored next thanks to Smith’s third.
He picked the ball up from dummy-half and sliced through a little gap before wrong-footing Bassmann to score under the posts.
The next 20 minutes turned into a dour affair as both teams mishandled the ball and gave away silly penalties through frustration.
With seven minutes to go, Jarrod Robbins intercepted a Jeremy Lang pass and despite Smith’s lunging tackle, Robbins scored in the corner to make it 28-10.
With less than five minutes on the clock, Tim Condon put the final nail in CYMS’ coffin with a try to make it 34-10.
Sullivan, CYMS’ captain-coach, said Mudgee was too good.
“I don’t see it as bad luck they out-muscled us and were too good,” Sullivan said.
“They had a simple game plan and they do it well, they have good speed on the edges. They were a bit too physical for us today
MUDGEE DRAGONS 34 (Corin Smith 3, Ben Thompson, Tim Condon, Jack Afamasaga tries; Tom Lewsley 5 goals) def ORANGE CYMS 10 (Tim Bassmann, Jarrod Robbins tries; Tom Stonestreet goal).