Thunder struck in first State Cup fixture

CAN'T TOUCH THIS: Keegan Harding in action at last month's Country Championship, he and his Thunder side are currently in action at the State Cup. Photo: BEN HARRIS

CAN'T TOUCH THIS: Keegan Harding in action at last month's Country Championship, he and his Thunder side are currently in action at the State Cup. Photo: BEN HARRIS

City of Orange Touch Association’s men’s open side is the colour city’s lone hope at this weekend’s NSW Touch State Cup at Port Macquarie, outside a number of Thunder women representing other associations.

Orange's Keegan Harding

Orange's Keegan Harding

The 40th edition of NSW Touch’s premier event kicked off with the traditional grading day on Friday, which determines which trophy a side will compete for once the competition proper kicks off on Saturday morning – the championship, bowl, shield or plate in Orange’s case.

Orange didn’t start well, going down 6-1 in its campaign-opener before bouncing back to steal a 5-5 draw against Defence Warriors.

In their penultimate game of the opening day, the Thunder boys drew 4-4 with the Mudgee Mudcrabs.

Orange was also scheduled to play Carlingford on Friday night.

Mudgee lost their opening game to Defence 6-4 before drawing with Carlingford 6-6.

Orange trumped Mudgee in a thriller at the Country Championship last month with Keegan Swain touching down on full-time to seal the victory.

“Yeah that loss [to Orange] hurt Mudgee’s chances of making the finals at Country Championships,” Mudcrabs spokesman Ben Harris said.

“The boys [were] wanting to make amends.”

“From a state perspective, this is the event everyone wants to win.

“Teams train for months just for this event. All the lead-up tournaments such as Hornets Regionals, Country Championships and for Sydney teams, the Vawdon Cup, everything leads to the State Cup.”

A record number of teams – 239 from across 64 affiliates - will compete this weekend, including a men’s open side from Dubbo for the first time in recent history.

Dubbo defeated Doyalson 6-2 in its first game before losing to University of NSW 6-3 and Sydney University 9-5.

“It’s good for the side to get to play at that level,” Dubbo Touch Football Association’s Mandy Turner said.

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