NINE weeks makes a huge difference. Just ask Orange City coach Steve Hamson.
Just over two months ago the Lions were thumped by competition leaders Dubbo Kangaroos, 43-12, in their first loss in over two seasons.
Amid preparations to take on Dubbo again in Saturday’s Blowes Clothing Cup top-of-the-table clash, in Dubbo, Hamson said the second placed Lions are poised to ambush ‘Roos after labelling his team “a much different side” to that which was demolished in round two.
Don’t believe him? Check the Lions’ team sheet.
Orange City has no less than six changes to the team which took to the Pride Park paddock nine weeks ago.
Granted, Hamson and co-coach Mick Gray have been forced into several changes - Lions’ skipper Josh Tremain is unavailable and is replaced by Darcy Garlick, while Tatafu Na’aniumotu is halfway through a six-week suspension for stomping, with Jake Davis taking his place.
Orange City has also welcomed back several stars since round two - 2013 Blowes Clothing Cup best and fairest Gus Brotherton was missing in round two, as were Mitchell Pearce, Nick Quinn and Sam Powell, and will take the paddock on Saturday at the expense of Steve Levitt, Billy Freeman, Tom Nell and Joe Alexander respectively.
Hamson said the changes, and improvements, aren’t just on paper.
“We’re a much more settled side, particularly in the forwards,” Hamson said.
“In saying that, that loss was out of character and everyone is much more familiar with each other.”
Hamson said the Lions’ defence has returned to its brutal best in recent weeks but conceded a powerful Dubbo scrum is a potential problem for his pack, which was bullied at the set piece by Orange Emus and Parkes in the rounds nine and 10.
“When you don’t win the set piece you struggle to win the game,” Hamson said.
“We’ve done plenty of technical work on our scrums this week, and we need to defend better through the centres, Dubbo’s big boys cut us up through there last time.
“They’re are a very good side, but we’ll never lie down. We’ll make it tough for them and hopefully grab a win.”
ORANGE CITY LIONS: 1 Darcy Garlick, 2 Chris Senior, 3 Scott Smith, 4 Mitch Pearce, 5 Chris Barrett, 6 Gus Brotherton, 7 Duncan Young, 8 Josh Maley, 9 Nick Quinn, 10 Mesui Lemoto, 11 Cameron Cole, 12 Jake Davis, 13 Jackson Coote, 14 Sam Powell, 15 Sam Dwyer.