Lions’ focus on aggression

Steve Hamson

Steve Hamson

“Certainly, we don’t want a repeat of that.”

Orange City coach Steve Hamson says his side will look to put last year’s Blowes Clothing Cup elimination semi-final collapse behind it when the Lions return to Ann Ashwood Park to take on the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Leading 27-0 and then 34-12 half-way through the second half during the first week of the 2016 semi-finals, City nodded off big time to eventually go down 39-34 in extra-time – all of the Bathurst club’s points coming in the second half and the first extra period.

Given his side has endured a massive turnover of players ahead of this season, Hamson admits there hasn’t been a massive amount of focus on last year’s result.

But there’s no shying away from it either.

“We’ve had Tahs prop (Matt Sandell) and (NSW Rugby development officer) Jarrod Simpson at training this week and Sam Coote’s wife has had a baby, Jake Davis is only just back from Thailand … there’s been a few distractions,” he said.

“But, certainly, we don’t want a repeat of (last year) again. And more importantly we don’t want a repeat of last week at Dubbo either.”

City slumped to a 45-12 road loss to the Dubbo in round two, Hamson calling his side’s midfield defence “passive” as the gigantic Roos centre Billy Sing made mince meat of the Lions once proud line.

For all the distractions over the Easter break and this week at training, the Orange club has focused on its defence in the lead-up to its trip to Bathurst, the Bulldogs undefeated after comfortable wins over CSU and Mudgee to open 2017.

“I’d be disappointed if we didn’t go over there and challenge them a bit more than that,” Hamson said looking at his opponent’s opening results.

“We’ve really focused on being more aggressive this week.

“Dubbo probably attacked us exactly where I’d expect the Dogs to – in that channel outside the 10 and inside the 12.”

This week, five-eighth Keegan Harding, inside centre Sam Coote and outside centre Jake Davis have the job of stiffening up the City midfield.

“I’d be disappointing if they missed their tackles this week.”

Currently sixth, Hamson’s side could lose further touch with the competition’s top five should the Lions suffer a loss at Bathurst on Saturday.

The Orange City mentor was confident, however, he was in charge of a side capable of playing finals rugby.

“I see us as a top five, top four side,” Hamson said, Parkes, Orange Emus, the Bulldogs, Dubbo Roos and Forbes all currently above the Lions.

“We’ve had a few guys away early in the season and we had a fairly terrible pre-season, numbers were low.

“We’ve got another bye after this week, then a good run of games. I’d expect us to find some form then.”

Kick-off is at 3.15pm.

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