CSU Bathurst rocketed to the top of the New Holland Agriculture Cup ladder after scoring a stirring victory over the Mudgee Wombats on Saturday afternoon, their second win to open the season.
Leading a stunnig second-half effort, Regan Hughes was the star of the show for CSU as he bagged three tries in the 35-19 victory, giving the students their second bonus point victory from as many games.
It was far from a polished performance from both teams in the first half as they went into the break locked at 7-all.
Converted tries from Mudgee's Brian O'Reilly - celebrating his 150th game - and CSU's Hughes were the only scores of a scrappy first half's play.
CSU's fitness came to the fore in the next term, and their ball handling improved markedly, as they ran in four tries to the Wombats' two.
Coach David Conyers was pleased by the way CSU applied themselves after a dismal start to the game.
"We put four tries over the last 30 minutes. That came from our fitness and our speed of play. It's encouraging that we could turn over so much possession and play so ordinary in the first half and still win the game," he said.
"Mudgee are a very forward-oriented team and they burned up a lot of fuel just going through the motions of what they did. They faded deeply over the last 20 minutes.
"Our boys have really changed their attitude about how they play. We got intimidated in the first half by those Mudgee forwards who are older and more experienced than our boys and we had almost no ball for the first half hour.
"To their credit they kept Mudgee to just one try, and Mudgee probably should have gone into half-time with more points on the board than they did."
Mudgee's milestone man O'Reilly said there's plenty to work on.
"It [150 games] was a bit of a surprise actually, I didn't expect it, it came around so quick," he said.
"Our front row really killed it in the scrums today. The scrums is one thing that dominate this year so we'll keep working on that and go from there.
"Fitness will come as the season goes so we will be better off."
- CSU BATHURST 35 (Regan Hughes 3, Josh Byrom, Aden MacDougall tries; Jack Keppell 5 conversions) def MUDGEE WOMBATS 19 (Brian O'Reilly, James Ford, Alex Saint tries; 2 conversions)
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