Disciplined Platypi not planning on letting another shot at Emus slip: Hammond

DON'T GIVE THEM A CHANCE: Forbes skipper Jack Hammond says his side's discipline in key moments needs to improve in Saturday's decider. Photo: NICK GUTHRIE

DON'T GIVE THEM A CHANCE: Forbes skipper Jack Hammond says his side's discipline in key moments needs to improve in Saturday's decider. Photo: NICK GUTHRIE

Discipline.

And plenty more of it.

Platypi skipper Jack Hammond knows his side can’t afford to give away silly penalties to gift Orange Emus goal-kicking nonpareil Nigel Staniforth a shot at breaking the hearts of the entire town of Forbes in this year’s Blowes Clothing Cup grand final – again.

Staniforth has landed the killer blow in three of the last four meetings between the two sides, including last year’s premiership decider and this season’s major semi-final, the last blow coming two weeks ago.

Forbes earned a rematch of the 2016 decider after accounting for Bathurst Bulldogs 20-18 in last weekend’s preliminary final at Grinsted Oval.

In many ways that result – Platypi fullback Nedd Brockmann landed the decisive points via a penalty goal to bump Forbes ahead by two in the final stages of the clash – mirrored many of the losses the baby blue and whites have suffered at the hands of the two-time defending premiers.

It’s a similarity not lost on Hammond, 

“We just need to win by a point to get back to Emus,” Hammond said, alluding the to fact Forbes didn’t play their best last weekend.

“We’re definitely looking forward to another crack at Emus on Saturday.”

A game that should be far more open than last year’s decider played in horrific conditions given the monsoonal rain Orange endured in the lead-up.

Hammond said there’s one thing he’s learnt out of that grand final loss.

“We don’t like playing in the mud,” he laughed.

“I think we’ve got to be patient with the ball, our silly penalties give them shots at goal.

“We seem to give (penalties) away at critical times … at crunch time, in the pinch, our discipline’s not there.

“I think we’ve got to look at our game plan that we took to Emus two weeks ago, but didn’t get us the biccies.

“We’ll stick to our strengths and concentrate on that.”

That game plan Hammond touched on worked for all bar the final stages of his side’s clash with Emus two weeks ago.

The massive Platypi pack earned parity with Emus set-piece – something no other side in the competition has been able to achieve in 2017 – and dominated the breakdown, winning a 9-3 penalty count by the hour mark of the grand final qualifier. 

The go-to pick and drive play netted Forbes two tries, Kyle Sharpe and Jarrod Hall crossing for five-pointers.

It resulted in a 17-10 lead mid-way through the second period, too, until the wheels fell off and Staniforth again emerged as Emus’ saviour in the clutch.

Hammond believes his side’s intensity at the breakdown, for 80 minutes, can lead to a title – although he concedes Saturday’s grand final will be tougher than any game Forbes has played in 2017.

“That forward play, that’s just part of our game,” he said.

“If Emus aren’t up to the task that falls into our hands. They’ll be up to the task though.”

As will Forbes, though, the tiny Lachlan Valley town with a touch over 7000 people that has punched above its weight on the sporting field for the last two years.

Forbes celebrated for weeks after the town’s rugby league club, the Magpies, snapped a 29-year premiership drought with a victory in the Group 11 grand final last season.

And while Hammond and the rugby club fell at the final hurdle at Endeavour Oval a week late in 2016, the Platypi have another shot this weekend.

It’s an opportunity not lost on anyone at the club – or the town, for that matter.

With a potential showdown with Emus on the grand stage looming large for most of the season, it’s that small town versus big city mentality that’s helped drive the Platypi.

“Last year and this year we’ve been there or thereabouts,” he said.

“It would mean so much to the community. Proving that we can mix it with big cities.

“Really, the fact we’ve done so for the last two years is something to be proud. We are proud of it.

“It’s something to be competitive against the big clubs and cities … we’re beating them … except for Emus of course.

“We use that as motivation though. We’re a bit of underdog, but that’s ok.”

  • FORBES PLATYPI: As per preliminary final: 1 Charlie French, 2 Jarrod Hall, 3 Kyle Sharpe, 4 Tim Prior, 5 Graeme Hopkins, 6 James King, 7 Tim Anderson, 8 Matt Coles, 9 Mahe Fangupo, 10 Jeff Stewart, 11 Henry Willis, 12 Simon Flynn, 13 Jack Hammond ©, 14 Darren Piper, 15 Nedd Brockmann; Bench: 16 Adrian Cole, 17 Hugh Dobell, 18 Andrew Hubbard, 19 Brad McMillan, 20 Jayme Sherritt, 21 Brodie Hodges, 22 Jake Cutler, 23 Cam Bennett, 24 Evan Wilson, 25 Campbell Wilson
  • ORANGE EMUS: 1 Nas Havealeta, 2 Tom Goolagong, 3 Michael Graham, 4 Nick Hughes-Clapp, 5 Sam McLean, 6 Harry Hamilton, 7 Andrew Selwood, 8 Scott McLean, 9 TJ Cunynghame, 10 Mitch Evers, 11 Carter Hirini, 12 Lachie Harris, 13 Nigel Staniforth ©, 14 Tom Green, 15 AJ Sykes; Bench: 16 Al Hattersley, 17 Matt Findlay, 18 Bill Travers, 19 Keith Howarth, 20 Levi Russell, 21 Simon Thompson, 22 Joe Melino, 23 Sam Green
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