Orange City Lions bag crucial win on the road against Cowra Eagles

TIRELESS: Orange City flanker Gus Brotherton was one of the Lions' best in their 14-point win in Cowra. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0614derby10

TIRELESS: Orange City flanker Gus Brotherton was one of the Lions' best in their 14-point win in Cowra. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0614derby10

OMINOUSLY for the rest of the Blowes Clothing Cup, Orange City co-coach Michael Gray believes the Lions are warming to the task after a gritty 21-7 victory over the Eagles in Cowra on Saturday.

Never an easy assignment, Saturday's clash at the Cowra Rugby Ground was a crucial one for the hosts, especially if the fifth-placed Eagles were to palm of challenges from both the Bathurst Bulldogs (sixth) and the Narromine Gorillas (seventh) in the race for a semi-final berth at the end of the 2014 season.

But after the Bulldogs stunned Forbes and City ground-out a 14-point victory, Cowra's finals aspirations have taken a massive body blow.

At the same time, the two-time defending premiers have all but cemented a top three spot and now have the likes of Dubbo Roos and new competition leaders Orange Emus in their sights.

"It's a good competition this year and there's a number of teams who can win it," Gray said.

"It's going to come down to whoever is playing the best come finals time.

"We'll keep winning ugly, we'll be happy to win the grand final if we do it ugly, but we're not getting to far ahead of ourselves."

Getting off to the best possible start, Orange City struck first through a converted Chris Barrett try.

Then, a successful Mesui Lemoto penalty goal advanced the visitors out to a 10-0 lead at halftime.

It wasn't until the second stanza that Cowra clicked, but after Lemoto landed two further successful penalty attempts to surge the Lions out to a 16-0 lead, the hosts sole scoring chance was of little consequence.

Replacement halfback Tom Nell darted over late in the game to seal the 14-point result.

"It would have been nice to pick up a bonus point but that wasn't meant to be. We're just happy winning at the moment," Gray added, Gus Brotherton the pick of the Lions on the road on Saturday.

"It was a good win. Cowra's sitting fifth and they've got a strong forward pack. We're happy with the win."

Played in wet and miserable conditions Gray described as being very Orange like, the Lions now head into winnable games against Mudgee (home), Narromine (away), CSU Bathurst (home) and Bathurst Bulldogs (away) before hosting Emus at Pride Park in the final round of the regular season.

After a season riddled with unavailability and injury, Gray added his first XV was beginning to find its feet as a unit.

"We tweaked a few things and we're happy with the performance," he said.

ORANGE CITY 21 (Chris Barrett, Tom Nell tries; Mesui Lemoto conv, 3 pen goals) def COWRA 7.