Camaraderie the catalyst for red-hot Lions’ success, a key factor in decider

ROARING INTO DECIDER: Brad Cleal is one of Orange City's guns that has plenty of experience in higher grades, that puts the Lions in good stead. Photo: MATT FINDLAY
ROARING INTO DECIDER: Brad Cleal is one of Orange City's guns that has plenty of experience in higher grades, that puts the Lions in good stead. Photo: MATT FINDLAY

Mates playing together, and for each other.

That was the catalyst for Orange City’s dominant Blowes Clothing Cup third grade season and if you ask Lions skipper Kurt McNamara, that’s what will win his side the title this weekend.

The Lions square-off with Bathurst Bulldogs in Saturday’s decider at Endeavour Oval and there’s no doubt which side enters the grand final as favourites, the Lions’ XV is absolutely red-hot.

A number of the side has won top grade premierships and that experience shows, Orange City lost just one game on the way to the minor title and then grand final.

That was against Bulldogs in the first half of the season, but the Lions reversed that result in the second half and then again in the major semi-final – emphatically.

Orange City won those games 48-7 and then 31-8, respectively.

“We’ve heard a few people saying we’ve stacked our side, but that’s not the case at all,” McNamara said of the Lions obscenely talented group.

“A lot of the guys in the side have young families or are running businesses, so they weren’t really keen on committing to a full season of playing and training.

“So it worked in well with third grade playing every second week or so, and then just training once a week. We all still get to play some footy and enjoy it with our mates, and we’ve got ourselves to a grand final so we won’t complain about that.”

McNamara said his side doesn’t need to change much from a fortnight ago, although he conceded Saturday’s decider should be a much tougher encounter.

“Grand finals are a different ball game to the regular season and Bulldogs are a bit the same as us, they have plenty of old heads in there who have won premierships across the grades,” he said.

“They’ve got a really, really good side and they’re dangerous all over the park.

“The last two encounters I think they’ve well and truly matched us in the first 15 minutes, so we’ll be looking to hang in there and match them for pace during that period and then continue on.

“They’ve dropped off a bit after that the last couple of times we’ve played, so we’ll look to go on with it.”

McNamara’s third grade side is one of four Orange outfits playing grand finals, along with Orange City’s colts and Orange Emus’ second and first grade sides.

He heaped praise on both clubs, and said it should definitely be a goal to bring all four trophies back to the colour city.

“It’s a really good time for the Orange clubs, it’s great to see us have the chance to win all four of those trophies,” he said.

“We certainly hope that happens, we’d rather see [the first and second grade premierships] won by Emus than any other club.

“It’ll be good to see the two clubs get out and support each other too, we don’t often get to do that. We were absolutely stoked to see Emus win that major semi-final and get to host the grand finals too, we didn’t really want to go over to Forbes for it.

“With Orange CYMS hosting and winning their grand final, and the [Orange Tigers] hosting the (Central West) grand final as well, it’s a great time for the city, we’re all doing really well.”

Saturday’s third grade decider will kick-off at noon.

  • ORANGE CITY LIONS: 1 James Sheridan, 2 Josh Tremain, 3 Shane Taber, 4 Josh Maley, 5 Keenan Brand, 6 Anthony Rich, 7 Wayne Miller, 8 Zarin Barber, 9 Anthony Kent, 10 Brad Cleal, 11 Nathan Zinga, 12 Sione Tongia, 13 Kurt McNamara ©, 14 Joe Barrett, 15 Baden Curran; Bench: 16 Simon Livingstone, 17 Scott Barrett, 18 Rowan Cleal, 19 Mitch Pearce, 20 Nathan Short, 21 Feleti Wolfgramm, 22 Nicko Foliaki 
  • BATHURST BULLDOGS: 1 Jake Mitchell, 2 Aaron Booby, 3 Tim Booby, 4 Dale Norris, 5 Andrew Smith, 6 Henry Francis, 7 Mick Anderson, 8 Dane Fitzpatrick, 9 Sam Macpherson, 10 Brent Dennis, 11 Aaron Baker, 12 Sam Markwick, 13 Steve Locke, 14 Toby Farraway, 15 Nathan Pearce; Bench: 16 Shannon Felsch, 17 Matt Smith, 18 Brendan Robinson, 19 Jack Spora, 20 Stephen Beath, 21 Hamish Davies, 22 Harry Peacock, 23 Riley Hanrahan, 24 Adam Plummer