Just way too classy.
That’s about the only way to describe Dubbo Kangaroos after the side claimed the Central West Junior Rugby Union under 15s premiership at Orange’s Endeavour Oval on Saturday, completing a stunning undefeated season in the process.
The side, without NSW Country Eagles guns Nick Tighe and Max Rumble, stormed home in a dominant second half showing to ultimately seal a 43-14 victory over the unlucky Orange City Lions outfit.
Roos led 19-14 at the break and, led by super-composed five-eighth Jayden Blake, piled on another 24 unanswered points in the second half to blow the decider out completely.
Not that the Lions were bad, far from it.
In fact, Orange City was the better side for a large chunk of the first half.
Simply, this Kangaroos side was just too good, it was too good all season, the undeniable class among the group shining through in the second half.
“Look, all credit to Orange City. They really muscled up and put us on the backfoot, their defence was quite bone-rattling in that first half,” Dubbo co-coach Jason Blake said.
“At half-time it probably could’ve gone either way really, but I spoke to my boys about staying true to their form, patterns and sequences of play, what had worked for them all year.
“We like to keep the ball in hand, really attack from anywhere on the field, so they needed to have belief in that plan and go to it. They did, it really showed in the second half.
“It was an amazing effort, it built on last year. We were the younger (Dubbo) side and we finished third in 2016, but we lost 11 or so players.
“We picked up eight new guys in the side this year and of those eight, seven had never played rugby.
“They’re very passionate about rugby now and that’s a real highlight for me and [co-coach Damien Johnson], seeing the whole side come together.
“This side has really worked so hard together this year, they deserve this, they’re reaping their reward.”
Orange City coach Nigel Ryan said he was over the moon with his side’s effort, but also couldn’t fault the Dubbo boys’ showing.
“They’ve been the best side all year, and they were better than us [on Saturday],” Ryan conceded.
“They really deserved to win, they played a great game so congratulations to them.
“They’re a team that’s been together for a long time, they’re very quick out wide.
“But I’m really proud of the boys, they played really well all season and did so again in [the decider].”
After Bathurst Bulldogs shocked everyone at the ground by upsetting Roos in the under 13s, many suggested a boilover would be possible in the 15s too.
Outside the first 10 minutes, in which Dubbo shot to a 12-0 lead, that boilover looked entirely possible in the first half.
Dubbo hooker and skipper Michael Strydom charged through some soft Lions defence in the middle to give his side a 7-0 lead – it was converted by Jayden Blake – after five minutes.
Blake kicked cross-field from his own 40-metre line four minutes later, it was regathered and popped off to Ben Rosenbaum, who went 30 to finish the stunning phase of play.
Blake missed the kick, leaving Dubbo’s lead at 12.
That second try woke the Lions up, and they crossed through fullback Henry Bouffler in the 14th minute.
Sean Carpenter nailed a tough conversion to slash the deficit to five, and Jack Ryan in the 20th after what Jason Blake labelled “the biggest, best tackle I’ve seen all season”.
With Roos attacking, Lions centre Kyle Morley read their attacking play like a book, shooting up on James Finch and jamming him, forcing the ball loose too.
Ryan scooped it up, went 70 metres and scored, Carpenter converted and just like that Orange City was leading 14-12.
That was the last highlight of the Lions’ day though.
Dubbo prop Connor Watts dived over for the first of his two tries, with Blake’s conversion Roos edged ahead 19-14.
Roos crossed straight after half-time, Blake laying a five-pointer on for Cam Bourchier, and the floodgate opened.
Ben Hoey dived over, Finch scored and then Watts grabbed his second. Blake converted one, sealing Roos’ 29-point victory and the 2017 title.
Blake was among the side’s best, as was openside flanker Will Schwagger and Watts.
For the Lions, Morley shone in defence – and not just for that one shot either – while loosehead prop Nick O’Hara was at his barnstorming best.
The battle between the two loosehead props was an interesting side-story to the grand final’s narrative.
Watts and O’Hara were both among their sides’ best on the day, and all season, and neither gave an inch at scrum time or around the paddock.
At times, it looked as though the pair was actively going looking for the other to try and gain the upper hand.
Appropriately, as the full-time whistle was blown Watts made a beeline for O’Hara, where the two embraced in a show of mutual respect.
- DUBBO KANGAROOS 43 (Connor Watts 2, Michael Strydom, Ben Rosenbaum, Cam Bourchier, Ben Hoey, James Finch tries; Jayden Blake 4 conv) def ORANGE CITY LIONS 14 (Harry West, Jack Ryan tries; Sean Carpenter 2 conv)