Dubbo Kangaroos captain Shaun McHugh accused his side of being “soft” after a rampant Orange Emus unit dominated Saturday’s Blowes Clothing Cup top-of-the-table clash, storming home in the second half to secure a 36-point win.
The undefeated Emus dominated possession in the first half at No. 1 Oval but only went into the break leading 10-0, with the game firmly in the balance.
But any hopes the Roos had of a second half fightback were extinguished almost immediately as a knock-on from the kick off led to a TJ Cunynghame try, and from there it was one way traffic as Emus secured a 41-5 win.
Just to really rub salt into Roos’ wounds, and no doubt help create a psychological edge heading into finals, Emus constantly turned down opportunities to take penalty goals in the second half, opting to back themselves with the ball and look for five-pointers.
They did that, several times.
Emus coach Paul Ringland was stoked with his side’s performance, McHugh the complete opposite.
Dubbo’s skipper said his side’s showing wasn’t worthy of a team sitting second, stating the defensive effort was particularly disappointing.
“If we stuck to our one-on-one tackles they don’t score 41 points,” he said.
“Some of those tries were soft. You ask (Emus captain) Nige Staniforth or (coach) Paul Ringland and they’ll tell you it was soft.
“That was the disappointing part. We were soft against a side we wanted to beat and they dominated every aspect of the game.”
Although Roos produced one of their poorest performances in some time, even McHugh conceded Emus were outstanding.
The competition leaders, who have scored a bonus point win in all but one game this year, were top class across the park and played at the same level from first whistle to last, despite losing Staniforth and prop Michael Graham very early on.
The men in green stole possession at a number of lineouts, won the the ball against the feed at scrums and rarely allowed the Roos into attacking territory.
“Extremely proud and extremely pleased,” Emus coach Paul Ringland said.
“It’s a tough place to come and Dubbo has been in really good form for the past 10 weeks so we were expecting a hard game and the boys turned up and really produced.
“We weren’t knowing what to expect so to come away with such a comprehensive win, that really boosts our confidence.”
The visitors, taking on a Roos side which hadn’t lost all season at No. 1 Oval, had a mountain of ball early but the home side’s defence was immense.
Staniforth booted a penalty to open the scoring before he departed and five minutes out from the break the weight of possession paid off and the impressive Mitch Evers crossed after the Roos made a meal of clearing the ball from danger.
Halfback Cunynghame eased across from close range early in the second stanza and while a Billy Sing half-break led to Luke Ryan getting one back for the Roos, there were no other highlights for the hosts.
Tom Green bagged a double, on one occasion latching on to a neat ball from replacement prop Matt Findlay, while Evers also got his second late on.
Levi Russell was Emus’ other try-scorer.
Ringland was pleased to see his side pile the pain on late, adding his players were “feeling good” and it was a chance to fine-tune the attack with just one more round remaining.
He also hailed his front rowers as a standout, but in truth there was no one star with the likes of of Lachie Harris, Andrew Selwood and Evers all shining bright.
There were few positives for the Roos but McHugh said his side, which has now slipped to third on the ladder, is determined to meet Emus again.
“We were our own worst enemy,” he said, adding some of his side’s play was “rubbish”.
“We want that opportunity (to play Emus again) because that’s not a performance we’re proud of.
“Especially conceding 41 points at home, where we hadn’t been beaten all year.”
- ORANGE EMUS 41 (Mitch Evers 2, Tom Green 2, TJ Cunynghame, Levi Russell tries; Evers 4 goals, Nigel Staniforth penalty) def DUBBO KANGAROOS 5 (Luke Ryan try)