Orange Barbarians continued their unbeaten start to the 2019 New Era Cup season on Friday night by taking down a gutsy, injury-hit Portland Colts outfit at Wade Park, the 28-8 victory led by a second-half hat-trick from hulking winger Rob Carroll.
After the two sides went into the sheds locked at 8-all following a laborious opening half, Carroll crossed in the 47th and 65th minutes before capping off Barbarians' win with his third on the stroke of full-time.
For good measure, he slotted the sideline conversion on the last as well, the finishing touch on an excellent individual showing.
They were probably three of the easiest tries you'll ever see, catch and put down, but I'll take it.Barbarians winger Rob Carroll, on his hat-trick
"They were probably three of the easiest tries you'll ever see, catch and put down, but I'll take it," Carroll laughed, his hat-trick taking his season tally to four.
"Getting the win's the main thing though, especially a good win like that in our first home game of the year in front of a pretty decent crowd."
A good win it was too, and one largely born from a stoic first-half defensive effort.
Barbarians played in the Colts' half just three times in the opening half, scoring twice through Jared Donlan and Cody Jarman while the former was held up in their third and final raid.
That proved a sign of things to come, once the Orange side rid themselves of their severe case of the dropsies and put some pretty ordinary discipline behind them after the break.
Put simply, virtually every time they touched the ball in that first half they dropped it and virtually every time Portland had possession - and the Colts had plenty - the Barbarians would give away a penalty, or two.
"It was a really good defensive effort in that first half, that was the message from (co-coaches) Benny (Gosper) and Mitch (Britt) at half-time too, they were really pleased with that," Carroll said.
"Portland probably could've been in front at half-time really, but once we stopped giving all those penalties away, held onto the ball and played a bit of footy it came together."
In fact, despite having barely any possession, Barbarians actually led until the final seconds of the first half, when an unconverted Colts try forced the half-time deadlock.
The opening stages of the second period continued the war of attrition of sorts, Portland had their chances while Josh Goodlock was disallowed five minutes after the break, despite being sure he'd scored.
But then came what, in hindsight, proved the game-changing moment.
Barbarians halfback Corey McLean took an intercept on his own 20-metre line and sprinted away before being run down and held down too long in the covering tackle although the offending Portland player, bizarrely, wasn't sin-binned despite what looked an obvious professional foul.
WATCH: Portland diffuses a Barbarians' attacking play after the Orange side rolled forward
That mattered little though, Carroll crossed three tackles later and Ed Morrish slotted the extras to give the Orange side a 14-8 lead.
Donlan crossed for his second just five minutes later, picking up from the back of a scrum on his side's 10-metre line, busting through and going 90 metres to score, before Carroll landed the final blow in the dying stages.
Despite the defeat there was no questioning the Colts' effort, they lost three players to injury in the opening period and as they'd come to Orange with only three reserves were left with the bare minimum 13 in the second half.
"That did make things difficult for us but you can't control those injuries, they happen," Portland captain-coach and former NSW Country prop Dallas Booth said.
WATCH: A second-half Barbarians' attacking movement breaks down at the end
"So you can see how much effort the boys put in and that's all I can really ask for at this stage of the season even if the result didn't come, but you don't win your premierships in May and there's promising signs we can build on from that game.
"We did bomb a few chances in the first half and we probably should've been ahead considering how much ball we had, but we'll work on it and Barbarians did defend really well too."
Along with Carroll's performance McLean was solid at half, Michael Newman created plenty from five-eighth for the Barbarians, Donlan was typically strong and Lionel Vanderwal was magnificent in the front-row.
Some, if not all of the Barbarians' go-forward was directly on the back of barnstorming carries from the big bookend, and Carroll and his fellow outside men reaped the benefits.
Although CSU Bathurst's clash with the Lithgow Bears isn't until Saturday, Barbarians maintain their place on top and could go further ahead depending on that other result.
"We play [CSU] next weekend and then we've got a couple of weeks off. We've had a really good start and hopefully we can keep that going into those byes, they'll be good for the boys that have a few niggles too," Carroll said.
- ORANGE BARBARIANS 28 (Rob Carroll 3, Jared Donlan 2, Cody Jarman tries; Ed Morrish, Carroll goals) def PORTLAND COLTS 8
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