Lions dig deep to overcome spirited students at Pride Park - Video, Gallery

A BLISTERING start wasn't enough for CSU Bathurst to take the points against Orange City in their Blowes Clothing Cup clash on Saturday.

The students were up 12-0 after six minutes thanks to two quick tries, however the Lions came back, were up 21-12 at half-time and went on to win 31-17.

The bonus-point win means the Lions stay in third on the competition ladder with two rounds left in the regular season.

Orange City coach Mick Gray said he was happy to see his players mount a comeback.

"We wanted to have a better start than we did, but to our credit the guys didn't panic and we got back into it and we were leading at half-time so it was all good," Gray said.

"A bonus-point win keeps us where we want to be and hopefully a chance of being higher than third at the end of the year."

WATCH OUR VIDEO INTERVIEWS WITH MICK GRAY AND HUGH MEDWAY:

CSU made a great start scoring in the fourth minute when centre Blake Ridges found himself in space and ran over the line.

Two minutes later winger James Tooth scooped up a dropped ball 30 metres out from his own line and then sped up the right line to score and take his side's lead to 12-0.

This seemed to wake the Lions from their slumber and they responded with tries to fullback Mitch Green and winger Sam Powell, which were both converted by Mesui Lemoto for Orange City to lead 14-12 after 18 minutes.

A further try to prop Scott Smith, and a Lemoto conversion, ensured the Lions took a 21-12 lead into the break.

The hosts had a better start to the second half with prop Darcy Garlick burrowing his way over three minutes in to take his side's lead out to 14 points.

CSU prop Tom Hudson made the most of his chance when he charged down an Orange City kick close to the line before grabbing the ball and diving over to score.

This reduced the margin to nine points, but when five-eighth Michael Sparks delivered a beautiful ball to winger Cameron Cole, the Lions were in again and cemented the 31-17 victory at Pride Park.

CSU Bathurst captain Hugh Medway loved the way his side started the match but wished they had been able to keep it going.

"We were very happy with the start. That's the sort of side we are. We like to start hard," Medway said.

"Unfortunately, the same as a few weeks before, we seem to start hard, switch off for a bit. It's a bit of thing we need to work on to keep the momentum going for the full 40 minutes each half."

Despite conceding five tries, Medway still liked his team's defence.

"I thought our "D" was good, even thought we let in a few tries," he said.

"They seemed to be going around us rather than through us which I thought was the main thing we've been working on all year. We just need to work on our "D" sliding across."

At the other end of the field, Gray admitted his team was far from its best but was pleased with the players' determination when they were down.

"We're struggling a bit to build momentum and possession and do some quality execution. Our line-out wasn't as good as I thought it has been. But they're all things we can work on," Gray said.

"CSU's been a bit of a bogey team for us, even in the years we've won the comp, so it's no different this year."

Josh Gemmell, after playing half a game of colts, started at halfback in the top grade for CSU and performed well.

Flanker Gus Brotherton was at his damaging best for the Lions in what was a scrappy performance for the two-time defending premiers.

ORANGE CITY LIONS 31 (Mitch Green, Sam Powell, Scott Smith, Darcy Garlick, Cameron Cole tries; Mesui Lemoto 3 conv) def CSU BATHURST 17 (Blake Ridges, James Tooth, Tom Hudson tries; Tennyson Vance conv).

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