‘I want that winning feeling’: Emus’ heart and soul desperate for home decider victory

LET'S DO THIS: Emus second grade hooker Keith Howarth is making his eighth grand final appearance for the greens on Saturday, from 17 years playing. Photo: MATT FINDLAY
LET'S DO THIS: Emus second grade hooker Keith Howarth is making his eighth grand final appearance for the greens on Saturday, from 17 years playing. Photo: MATT FINDLAY

Every club nation-wide has a bloke Keith Howarth, every club needs one.

Off the field, he’s the one that lends a hand with anything and everything whether he’s asked or not – in the canteen, behind the bar, the clean-up work, setting up fields.

You name it, Howarth does it. His wife Michelle and four kids do as well.

On the field, he’s the one that fills the gaps in Emus’ forward pack.

At times a victim of his own versatility, he plays wherever he’s picked in whatever grade he’s picked.

He does whatever is needed, as long as it’s the best thing for the side.

Despite being just 32, he’s been doing it for 17 years down at Endeavour Oval.

In short, Howarth and his family are the heart and soul of Emus Rugby Club.

This weekend, he’ll make his eighth grand final appearance in myrtle green and his fourth on the trot with Emus’ second XV.

He’s tasted success in three of his seven trips to the big dance, including the last time the greens won in second grade in 2014 – he’s one of just three players from that side left in reserves.

He was also a big part of the club’s top grade title wins in 2015 and 2016 but, true to his humble nature, he wasn’t even sure whether to count them because he didn’t run on.

But after two straight grand final losses in second grade – both at Endeavour Oval – he wants to help his side reclaim that trophy.

“Any time you lose a grand final it hurts, it hurts a lot. But losing them at home has a different kind of sting to it,” Howarth said.

“Although I think we were beaten by better sides on the day in Orange City (2015) and Dubbo Kangaroos (2016), there’s still that feeling that you’ve let yourselves and your supporters down. It’s not nice.

“I really want that winning feeling back, and it would be so good to get it back at our home ground. That’s what’s driving us.

“We’ve had a lot of success recently (despite a lot of player turnover) which I think comes down to a mixture of good coaching, some really great players and a great culture.

“But we’ve still only won one title in that time. This club is awesome to be a part of, and we want to earn that success again for the club, especially being our 70th anniversary year.”

To do that the greens will have to take down Bathurst Bulldogs, the two sides split the honours during the regular season.

Bulldogs beat Forbes in last weekend’s preliminary final, Howarth’s troops accounted for the Platypi 32-16 in the major semi-final as well.

“We really let ourselves down discipline wise in that semi-final though, we kept Forbes in the game really,” Howarth said, the greens gave away a stream of penalties in the first half.

“Bulldogs are a very good side and we can’t afford to give them chances, or piggyback them. With the side we have on the paddock, we’re more than capable of winning this premiership, but we need to play well.

“We’ve seemed to fire at stages and then back off in others this season, we need to play the type of rugby we know we’re capable of and do it for an extended period.”

Kick-off in Saturday’s second grade grand final is at 1.30pm.

  • ORANGE EMUS: 1 Matt Findlay, 2 Keith Howarth, 3 Steve Fergus, 4 Damo Harton ©, 5 Jack Hart, 6 Sam Greatbatch, 7 Tom MacSmith, 8 Bill Travers, 9 Sam Green, 10 Joe Melino, 11 Jake Roberts, 12 Simon Thompson ©, 13 Levi Russell, 14 Ted Hoskin-Murray, 15 James Simmons; Bench: 16 Al Hattersley, 17 Drew Bale, 18 Mark Grivas, 19 Peter Brus, 20 Matt Campbell, 21 Aidan Baker, 22 Derek Thompson, 23 Matt Clark
  • BATHURST BULLDOGS: 1 Joel Harper, 2 Matui Mahia, 3 Semisi Langi, 4 Brad Donnelly, 5 Vinnie Reyland, 6 Sam Maher, 7 Al Kent, 8 Tom Fitzsimmons, 9 Kurt Weekes, 10 Cameron Sinclair, 11 Jack Gunter, 12 Hayden Christie-Johnson, 13 Josh Weekes, 14 Ben Sheppard, 15 Justin Mobbs ©; Bench: 16 Jock Suttor, 17 Angus Doulman, 18 Dylan Carter, 19 Riley Hanrahan, 20 Mick Anderson, 21 Dale Norris, 22 Brent Dennis, 23 Harry Peacock.