ORANGE City have produced the start to the Blowes Clothing Cup they wanted.
The Lions, who lost their opening four matches in the 2011 season, downed defending premiers Parkes 19-3 on Saturday in the season opener.
The first half was a slug-fest with the Lions having a 5-3 lead at half-time.
They were the better side in the second half and put on two more tries for the 16-point win.
Lions assistant coach Andy Hillan said it was a good performance for the team which was still establishing new combinations.
“First game of the season, just finding their feet in the first 40 minutes. Things started to come together,” Hillan said.
“It’s the first time (Michael) Sparks has played with Quinny (Nick Quinn) at half and five-eighth, they’re starting to find their feet a bit. Even the centres - it’s a whole new backline from last year.
“There’s not many changes to last year in the forward pack so they were solid. I think that’s where we won it. We ground it out at the front and then scored the tries which was what we practiced.”
It was slow going early on for both sides as they worked their way into the first game of the season.
Parkes were first to score points when Cameron Standen kicked a penalty goal six minutes from the break.
However, shortly after the restart, the Lions kicked downfield and winger Sam Powell showed his speed to dive on the ball and score a try.
The Lions extended their two-point lead shortly after half-time when they took a tap from a penalty and hooker Josh Tremain cruised in under the posts.
Duncan Young’s conversion gave Orange City a 12-3 lead at Pride Park.
Chris Barrett added to the Lions’ total when Sparks put him through a gap to score and Young converted.
It was the final points of the game as both teams were tested in defence.
Parkes coach Trevor Whitaker said mistakes were costly for his team, which looked a shadow of the side which lifted the trophy at the end of 2011.
“I think our mistakes let us down at crucial times. It held us back from scoring. It was a really tough game,” Whitaker said.
“At stages they played well but seemed to get away from the game plan at the end which let us down. Hopefully we’ll get back training this week and try and sort it out.”
Whitaker was impressed with second rower Charles Michelle and flanker Luke Freeman, as well as Carl Oliver who made his first grade debut at hooker.
Hillan singled out flanker Mitch Pearce, fullback Sam Coote and captain Josh Maley for their performances.
Now the Lions will prepare to travel to Dubbo to take on the Kangaroos in the second round.
“It will be another good test because apparently they’ve been training the house down up there and they’ve got some imports,” Hillan said.
ORANGE CITY 19 (Sam Powell, Josh Tremain, Chris Barrett tries; Duncan Young 2 conv) def PARKES 3 (Cameron Standen pen goal).