It was far from pretty but Orange Emus kicked off their Blowes Clothing Cup title defence with a gutsy win over Forbes on Saturday afternoon, although a substantial injury toll from the hard-fought clash does look somewhat concerning for the greens.
Jamil Khalfan, Scott Hubbard, Matt Findlay, Simon Badgery and Rob Thorburn all came from Grinsted Oval during the 42-29 victory, with the greens' reserves standing up in a big way as their side was forced to come back after trailing by 10 points at half-time.
It remains unclear if any of those five will be sidelined long-term due to those injuries, and Emus coach Pete Bromley couldn't speak highly enough of the effort that came from his bench.
From all his troops in fact, considering the mercury rose close to 30 degrees at Grinsted Oval and the greens went into the clash without any trial games.
I said before the game it would be hard and it would be a matter of whether they could pick themselves up time and time again, which they did.- Emus coach Pete Bromley
"It was pretty gutsy stuff. I said before the game it would be hard and it would be a matter of whether they could pick themselves up time and time again, which they did," Bromley said.
"I couldn't fault the attitude and the effort, some of the guys from the bench had played full games in second grade and were forced to play big minutes in firsts as well, that depth was really important.
"In terms of performance it was ugly, it wasn't pretty at all and there's a lot to work on but I'll take a bonus point win any time we come to Forbes, I don't care how we get it.
"The injuries, well, we'll wait and see how they all are mid-week and go from there."
In their first outing under the guidance of new player-coaches Jack Hammond and Jarrod Hall the Platypi came out firing and rolled to a 17-7 lead early, the hosts then enjoying a 24-14 lead at the half-time break.
But with the wind at their backs the defending champions roared back into the game, reducing the margin to just one point at 29-28 with about seven minutes to go.
They hit the lead for the first time when Matt Campbell dished up a try for Sam Greabatch with a beautiful inside ball just a couple of minutes later before Carter Hirini capped off the win an opportunistic five-pointer on full-time.
After being awarded a penalty Hirini tapped quickly, although he actually just kicked it forward before regathering, and caught the Platypi napping, sprinting 80 metres to score.
Skipper Nigel Staniforth, as he did all day, slotted the kick to maintain a 100 per cent success rate for the clash.
Albeit frustrated with blowing a lead like that, Hall said he was reasonably pleased with the Platypi's performance.
"We really should've won that game but we made too many mistakes, so we know what we need to work on and really it is only round one so we'll go back and stick at it," Hall said.
"There was a lot of positives there anyway."
Louis Carr was superb for the visitors while Forbes' boom recruit Viliami Kaufusi was irresistible on the wing, scoring a debut on hat-trick and promising his new club plenty in the 2019 season.
- ORANGE EMUS 42 (Louis Carr 2, Tom Goolagong, Sam Greatbatch, Carter Hirini, Aidan Baker tries; Nigel Staniforth 6 conversions) def FORBES PLATYPI 29 (Viliami Kaufusi 3, Jayme Sherritt, Isac Stewart tries; Kaufusi 2 conversions)
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