Who said the jump from colts to first grade was a tough one in the Blowes Clothing Cup?
Orange City’s teenage sensation Hunter Ward bagged five tries in his top grade debut against the battling Dubbo Rhinos on Saturday at Caltex Park.
Ward crossed for half of the Lions’ 10 tries in the 65-0 victory, one that keeps Orange Cit’s faint finals hopes alive.
The hosts were unlucky not to score a try in a first half, a piece of play that showed some promising signs for the struggling Rhinos.
But the Lions held them out to take a 33-0 lead into the break, and ran away with it in the second period to claim the thumping bonus-point victory.
Rhinos coach Dave Stuart said low player numbers – they’re missing up to 13 people through injury – had once again got the better of them.
“They put in a lot of effort each time but Orange just out-enthused us at the breakdown, made it hard for us to get any decent ball,” Stuart said.
“When we did have it there in the first half, we look alright when we’ve got the ball but these games are about defence.”
It took less than five minutes for Ward to open his tab. Receiving the ball out wide, he stormed past the Rhinos’ defenders to crash over and Sam Dwyer had no trouble adding the extras.
The Lions lit up the field with expansive and showy – perhaps too showy – rugby but their own errors kept them out until Jackson Coote managed to get back to basics.
The ever-reliable Coote busted through the Rhinos line and selflessly passed off the ball to send Trey Sukuru over.
But if Coote was instrumental in Sukuru’s try, it was nothing compared to what Ward managed in the dying moments of the first half.
The young flanker charged to catch a short Rhinos’ kick-off and sprinted 40 metres – weaving in and out of defenders – only to be brought down barely 15 metres from the try line. But the damage was done and the Lions spread the ball wide to send Coote over for a try of his own.
The second half continued much as the first had ended, but the Rhinos did show glimpses of form.
“I’ve got to say we’re still working it out to the end, the guys are really still pushing through and still putting the effort in and that’s all we can ask of them,” Stuart said.
Lions coach Steve Hanson said the win would give them plenty of confidence going into next week’s derby against the Orange Emus.
“I think there was a couple of times where we pushed passes when we should have just tucked it away, had the breakdown, recycled it and gone again,” Hanson said.
“In the second half our fitness was letting us down. We were still trying to play side to side and we were too buggered to create the depth … so then we were pushing passes, having contact where we didn’t want to have contact. But 65-0 you’ve got to be happy with that.”
ORANGE CITY LIONS 65 (Hunter Ward 5, Jackson Coote, Trey Sukuru, Barton Young, AJ McNiven, Donipate Katololo tries; Sam Dwyer 6 goals; Dwyer penalty) def DUBBO RHINOS 0