Orange Emus’ improvement during the 2018 Westfund Ferguson Cup has been marked, transforming from a side with obvious potential into a genuine title threat thanks to a willingness to develop and the helpful addition of a couple of boom recruits.
But even so, if the greens are to continue their march toward their first title since 2015 they’ll have to do something they’ve not been able to so far this season.
Take down Bathurst Bulldogs, last year’s Blowes Clothing Cup women’s champions.
In the sides’ two encounters this season, in rounds two and seven, Bulldogs prevailed 55-14 and then 27-12 respectively.
In fact, based on the results available, it seems Emus haven't beaten Bulldogs since the Bathurst side entered the competition in 2016, the hoodoo stretching almost three seasons now.
Emus have hit their straps in recent weeks and are battle-hardened after a hard-fought qualifying final win over Cowra last weekend, while Bulldogs breezed past Temora.
Even so, considering Bulldogs’ side contains the likes of 2017 grand final hero Edwina Ulberg, Marita Shoulders, Nicole Schneider, Kate Gullifer, Claudia McLaren and Mandy Scott, the greens’ task in Saturday’s minor semi-final remains a monumental one.
The victor will win through to the preliminary final and play either CSU Bathurst or West Wyalong depending on the result of the major semi-final, the loser will be eliminated.
The first-versus-second clash, at Parkes, is as juicy a game as you’ll find this weekend and it’s setting up one of Central West Rugby Union’s great individual battles – Sharnah Stevens versus Claire Woolmington.
West Wyalong’s Stevens made every rep side available to her this season and also scored a whopping 37 tries to lead her Redbacks to the minor title.
She claimed the competition’s highest point-scorer gong, while Woolmington won player of the year in her debut season in rugby union.
A netball and league tar star as well, Woolmington has taken the Westfund Ferguson Cup by storm and scored a first-half quartet in CSU’s qualifying final hammering of Mudgee last weekend.
West Wyalong won the two sides’ only encounter this season 69-5.
Both finals kick-off at 12.40pm on Saturday, the minor semi-final is at Endeavour Oval while the major is at Northparkes Oval.
- ORANGE EMUS: 1 Charmaine Buckley, 2 Jessie Mangan, 3 Jess Edwards, 4 Nikita Campbell, 5 Cat Lee, 9 Em McDonald, 10 Stacey Howarth ©, 12 Nikki D’Aquino, 13 Milika Tuinakauvadra, 15 Jessie McLean; Bench: 6 Kate Walker, 17 Brooke Martin, 11 Jacky Lyden, 19 Amanda Draper, 14 Alex Walker, 3 Mackinley Gilliver, 22 Emma McLean
- BATHURST BULLDOGS: 1 Ebony Fenton, 2 Edwina Ulberg, 3 Marita Shoulders ©, 4 Amelia King, 5 Jade Nevin, 9 Nicole Schneider, 10 Kate Gullifer, 12 Jess Robinson, 13 Courtney Auld, 11 Kirsten Howard; Bench: 16 Kelly Edwards, 17 Sharna Aisake, 18 Tegan Roads, 19 Claudia McLaren, 20 Alyza Doulis, 21 Ali Stanford, 22 Mandy Scott
- WEST WYALONG REDBACKS: Team not available
- CSU BATHURST: 1 Ni-Ollien Malae, 2 Rachel Brown, 3 Bailey Seamer, 12 Brienna Fonti, 15 Ash Bridge, 5 Georgia Verwey, 3 Kirrilee Lazarus, 8 Liz Young, 9 Claire Woolmington, 10 Bridie Gordon (c); Bench: 16 Bridie Comiskey, 17 Sophie Dawson, 18 Meghan Kempson, 19 Jessica Gann, 20 Georgia Teirney, 21 Elizabeth Butt, 22 Grace Fairall, 23 Katherine Windsor, 24 Emily Phillips