There’s been very, very little between Orange Emus and Bathurst Bulldogs so far in 2018.
Although Emus blew the Bathurst side out in round two, the two sides’ other encounters this season were both absolute thrillers, decided by less than a try and both coming down to the absolute last seconds of the game.
It’s quite fitting they meet again in Saturday’s major semi-final and, based on the line ups named, all signs point to another epic.
Bulldogs coach Dean Oxley has named a full-strength outfit and Emus mentors Paul Ringland and Jeremy Wallace have all but done the same, with the exception of halfback TJ Cunynghame, who remains sidelined with a knee injury.
But, in the age of starters and finishers, it’s the respective sides’ benches that could play the biggest role, with experience aplenty littering the pine for both sides.
Emus’ bench is headlined by top grade premiership winners Michael Graham, Simon Badgery, Rob Thorburn and AJ Sykes, while Bulldogs’ boasts the likes of Adam Dwyer, Scott Johnston, young gun Riley Hanrahan and former NSW Country Cockatoo Phil Tonkin too.
Emus face Bulldogs from 3.15pm o Saturday at Endeavour Oval, following the colts, women’s and second grade games.
There’s no third grade games this weekend, the minor premiership-winning Bulldogs have gone straight to the grand final, with Emus and Dubbo Kangaroos facing off in next weekend’s preliminary final.
- ORANGE EMUS: 1 Matt Findlay, 2 Tom Goolagong, 3 Nas Havealeta, 4 Sam McLean, 5 Nick Hughes-Clapp, 6 Jack Marchinton, 7 Jayden Norris, 8 Scott McLean, 9 Matt Clark, 10 Kyran Bubb, 11 Tom Green, 12 Lachie Harris, 13 Levi Russell, 14 Harry Cummins, 15 Nigel Staniforth ©; Bench: 16 Michael Graham, 17 Sam Greabatch, 18 Harry Hamilton, 19 Simon Badgery, 20 Rob Thorburn, 21 Matt Campbell, 22 Aidan Baker, 23 AJ Sykes
- BATHURST BULLDOGS: 1 Aaron Booby, 2 Sean Fogarty, 3 Joel Harper, 4 Dylan Carter, 5 Justin Mobbs, 6 Harry Peacock, 7 Alex Weal, 8 Peter Fitzsimmons, 9 Josh Oxley, 10 Brad Glasson, 11 Ben Sheppeard, 12 Adam Miles ©, 13 Harry Webber, 14 Will Oldham, 15 Josh Weekes; Bench: 16 Liam Berry, 17 Mark Donnelly, 18 Travis Gibson, 19 Adam Dwyer, 20 Kurt Weekes, 21 Scott Johnston, 22 Adam Powell, 23 Phil Tonkin, 24 Riley Hanrahan