That’s freedom: exciting, underdog Emus taking on Gorillas with no fear

GET HIM UP: Emus' set-piece will be crucial in Saturday's grand final, the greens are fortunate to have a lineout general like Matt Vardanega. Photo: MATT FINDLAY
GET HIM UP: Emus' set-piece will be crucial in Saturday's grand final, the greens are fortunate to have a lineout general like Matt Vardanega. Photo: MATT FINDLAY

Three weeks ago Orange Emus were beaten by Narromine, with the clash at 5-all the greens failed to find touch after a penalty on full-time and the Gorillas wrestled their way into a scoring position then crossed to snatch a victory.

Ahead of Saturday’s Central West Junior Rugby Union grand final against the Gorillas, Emus coach Mick Wallace says he haven’t given the defeat much thought, outside a couple of factors.

“One, the fact we’re the only side that’s really matched it with Narromine gives us confidence and two, these boys want to win,” he said.

“We should’ve won that game and we’ll learn from that error, but the fact the boys weren’t happy with taking a 5-all draw and they wanted to go for the win, that’s a good thing.

“They want to play good rugby, they want to score tries and do it in the most exciting way they can and that’s got us where we are, so we’ll be encouraging them to do that again in the grand final.”

That expansive rugby could serve the greens well too, it’s a stark contrast to the grinding style the Gorillas have mastered in recent years, one that led to their under-17 title win last year.

“We are a little less structured, our structure goes out the window after two or three phases actually,” Wallace laughed.

GREEN DREAMS: Emus skipper Riley White charges forward in his side's win over Dubbo Red earlier this year. He'll lead the side in Saturday's decider. Photo: MATT FINDLAY

GREEN DREAMS: Emus skipper Riley White charges forward in his side's win over Dubbo Red earlier this year. He'll lead the side in Saturday's decider. Photo: MATT FINDLAY

“As a more old-school sort of bloke, I really like the way Narromine play rugby. It’s tough, and they come in waves and how we handle that pressure will be a big factor I think.

“We may rein ourselves in a bit, but I don’t mind the idea of throwing it around against them.

“Narromine have been there and done this before with this group whereas for a lot of our boys it’s their first taste of this stage of the season, I don’t remember the last time an Emus junior side was in a grand final.

“All year we’ve been looking to just take the next step, then the next one and this is just another step on that journey. Admittedly, it’s a pretty step to take but these boys want to win.”

Emus won through to the decider after finishing third, first taking down Dubbo Red (26-16) in the minor semi-final before beating Mudgee in last weekend’s preliminary play-off.

The greens won that game 34-19.

Outside that loss three weeks ago they’ve faced Narromine on one other occasion this year, the Gorillas won that won 31-nil.

“More than anything I think it’ll just be a really cracking game of rugby, we’re all looking forward to it,” Wallace said.

Saturday’s decider kicks off at 12.30pm at Forbes’ Grinsted Oval.

  • ORANGE EMUS: 1 Tyler Elemes, 2 Will Ditchfield, 3 Jordan Wright, 4 Matt Vardanega, 5 Clary Annis-Brown, 6 Leo Ferguson, 7 Riley White ©, 8 Lachie Coyte, 9 Mitch Weekes, 10 Ben Norris, 11 Sam McDonald, 12 Ryan Manning, 13 Nick Masling, 14 Jordan French, 15 Bailey Ferguson; Bench: 16 Ben Cotter, 17 Jack Kelly, 18 Riley Pearce, 19 Eden Hoy, 20 Kyran Ah-See, 21 Jack Tracey, 22 Jake Ritchie, 23 Ethan Burke

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