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.
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.