The Manildra Rhinos have continued their unbeaten start to their 2019 Woodbridge Cup campaign with a convincing 40-10 win over the Canowindra Tigers on Sunday.
Despite a fast start from the hosts at Canowindra's Tom Clyburn Oval - the Tigers led 10-nil by the 28th minute thanks to tries from Aidan Kennelly and former Orange Hawks prop Sia Nemani - the Rhinos limited the damage before working their way into the contest.
By half-time, the shoe was well and truly on the other foot, with a try to Mitch Hutchings and a brace to his centres partner Jayden Fahy cementing the Rhinos' 18-10 advantage at the break.
Clinical conversion work from Hutchings, who would go on to convert five from seven opportunities for the day, in addition to a penalty goal, was also crucial to the change of fortune, with the game all one-way traffic once play resumed in the second half.
We do a lot of that at training - working under fatigue - and I think that shows in the second half, with the scoreline.Manildra Rhinos captain Simon Osborne
The Rhinos scored four unanswered tries in the second stanza, with skipper Simon Osborne, hooker Jake Mullins and bench players Jesse Astill and Luke Wilson getting in on the action, with the visitors' greater fitness and lack of discipline from the Tigers allowing the Rhinos to run away to a 30-point win.
Tigers coach Dan Barclay, who himself donned a jersey on Sunday afternoon, emphasised that chemistry was still building with his group after a mass of personnel changes during the off-season.
"Everyone put in 100 per cent effort, but it was a lot of individual efforts, and it's about coming together at training," Barclay said.
"We'll get there. Trundle and Manildra are definitely the benchmark in the competition, but we're a new side, we've lost a lot of players from last year so combinations and things are looking to work.
"We'll be there by the end of the year."
On the Rhinos' side of things, Osborne was pleased with how his team rebounded after a slow start, and now find themselves sporting a 2-0 start the season after a first-round bye.
"We had a big chat at half-time about what we needed to do - and control the ruck - we did that, and that's how the scoreline ended up," the prop said, adding he also thought fitness played a part in the second half.
"We do a lot of that at training - working under fatigue - and I think that shows in the second half, with the scoreline."
He also acknowledged it was no secret as to where his team's ambitions lie, but also played down its significance after round three of the home-and-away season.
"Definitely in a grand final, [to] go one step further, but it's early in the year," Osborne said.
The win cements the Rhinos among the early-season front runners as they look to go one step further than last year's grand final loss to Trundle, while the Tigers are at 1-2 as they head into the Easter break, having played both of last year's grand finalists in the first three rounds of the season.
- MANILDRA RHINOS 40 (Jayden Fahy 2, Mitch Hutchings, Simon Osborne, Jake Mullins, Jesse Astill, Luke Wilson tries; Hutchings 5 goals; penalty goal) def CANOWINDRA TIGERS 10 (Aidan Kennelly, Sia Nemani tries; Rob Burn goal)
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