ORANGE City stand alone as the sole Blowes Clothing Cup competition leader after defeating CSU Bathurst 24-5 in a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.
Heading into the Pride Park showdown equal first on 28 competition points with CSU, City’s win was comprehensive, building their attack on the back of some inspiring defence to at one stage lead the students 24-0 after 75 minutes.
A late Jack Garrad try finally got the visitors on the scoreboard.
Lions coach Michael Gray said it was a win based on desire.
The Lions of 2012 want to win.
And they’re prepared to put in the work to do so.
“We just play to our strengths, really, it’s easy to coach them because they’re focused and they want to achieve. That’s half the battle,” Gray said.
“We had a job to do. We wanted to win and stay on top of the comp and the guys were very focused on that.
“It was a hard slog but I think (the win) is a reflection of the guys’ effort. We’re training hard and it’s showing on the park.”
In an even battle to open the contest, the Lions posted first points when inside centre Maesui Lomoto booted home a penalty goal after 12 minutes to go up 3-0.
CSU dominated field position with the boot, but their scrum was going backwards.
And the Lions knew it.
They smashed the students’ scrum again and again.
On the back of three consecutive scrum penalties the Lions went within a whisker of notching up the game’s first five pointer but a knock-on off the back of another scrum and a booming clearing kick from CSU relieved the pressure.
But ill-discipline cost the students.
After a string of seven penalties in the game’s opening half hour, referee Dale Harding eventually had enough and yellow carded CSU fly-half Sam Ryan for entering a ruck from the side.
Orange City then took advantage.
Second-rower Mitch Pearce crossed next to the left-hand upright five minutes before the break to give the vocal home crowd plenty to cheer about.
Lomoto converted and City maintained their 10-0 lead at half-time.
It was in the first half Orange City stamped their authority on the match.
Ten points in the rain at Pride Park may as well have been 50.
The home side was brilliant and brutal in defence against a CSU Bathurst outfit renowned for its flair and creativity, albeit the rain and freezing temperature weren’t conducive to moving the ball around in the manner the students would have liked.
Second half-tries to Sione Lafo’ou and Duncan Young took the home side out to a 24-point lead before Garrad scored for the visitors.
CSU skipper Matt Boylan-Smith said the Lions were simply too good.
“They defended pretty well in that first half. We let them get the jump on us there,” Boylan-Smith said.
“We’ve got a lot to work on. We’ve got to start better.”
Boylan-Smith praised the effort of his pack, in particular the front-row of Adrian Cunningham, Luke Kelly and big Ryan Bear.
But for all their good work, there was still plenty to improve on.
“In these sort of conditions we don’t really get to throw it wide,” he said.
“A lot of our attack and flair was taken out of the game... maybe that’s another thing we have to work on.”
The Lions didn’t have a bad player with both Lomoto and fly-half Michael Sparks standouts in the backline.
The entire Lions pack shone.
They thrived in the bash-and-crash style, wet weather contest.
“Unfortunately the weather wasn’t conducive to spreading the ball around. Our forward pack has done everything that’s asked of them. They’re not the biggest pack but they grind away and grind away and do their job very well,” Gray said.
ORANGE CITY 24 (Sione Lafo’ou, Duncan Young, Mitch Pearce tries; Maesui Lomoto 3 conv, pen goal) def CSU BATHURST 5 (Jack Garrad try).