Orange Emus returned to the Blowes Clothing Cup winners' circle with a convincing win over the Forbes Platypi at Endeavour Oval on Saturday afternoon, one sparked by the most fluent performance the greens have produced so far in 2019.
Where the defending premiers had turned out clunky, sideways, hot-and-cold efforts in their three-week winless run leading into Saturday's clash, and arguably before that too, they went back to basics against the Platypi and played a direct, physical brand of rugby that paid dividends.
An unlikely source reaped the most reward too, with Matt Findlay jagging a rare front-rower's hat-trick in the nine-tries-to-two victory, crossing in the fifth and ninth minutes then completing his treble midway through the second half.
Look at the big picture, we've still only won one game in the last month so we won't rest on our laurels with that.Emus prop Matt Findlay on Saturday's win
"I'd love to tell you they were intercepts or runaways or even exciting at all but I think I covered about a metre-and-a-half combined," Findlay laughed, all three of his five-pointers coming from pick-and-drives close to the line.
"None of us care who scores them anyway as long as they are being scored and we're playing good rugby, because more often than not we'll get the result from that which we did [on Saturday], obviously that's the really pleasing thing for all of us."
But, although he said his side's stoked to taste victory again after back-to-back losses to Cowra and Bathurst Bulldogs then a draw with Orange City, Findlay said his greens "aren't about to get carried away with it".
"Look at the big picture, we've still only won one game in the last month so we won't rest on our laurels with that," he said.
"We were a lot better than we had been in the few weeks prior and it was our best performance of the season so far, I think anyway, but we've still identified things we can improve on.
WATCH: Emus prop Matt Findlay crosses for the third of his tries in Saturday's win over Forbes
"Our defensive effort was good for the most part but we still conceded soft tries and we still switched off a couple of times. Our discipline was much better, but we still gave away a handful of penalties.
"We might be nit-picking because it was a great win, but we've developed pretty high standards so we want to reach them. This was a good step on the way to doing that."
Forbes took an early 3-nil lead after one of those penalties when Angus King slotting his straightforward shot in just the second minute, before the greens hit back when Findlay burrowed over for his first not long after.
Nigel Staniforth converted but wasn't able to when Findlay crossed again just four minutes later, but the greens still enjoyed a 12-3 buffer.
The Platypi quickly ate into that again when barnstorming hooker Jarrod Hall rolled over from close range, King duly converted to cut the margin to two.
King missed a go-ahead penalty goal attempt and Emus extended their lead to nine points when Charlie Henley crossed for his second five-pointer in as many games for the club, Staniforth adding the extras to make it 19-10.
The gap stayed at nine until after the half-time break, with Emus rolling over the somewhat-gassed Platypi, outscoring the visitors 40 points to seven in the second half.
Findlay scored his third while Lachie Harris grabbed a second-half double, Tom Joseph crossed as well, as did winger Tom Green and halfback TJ Cunynghame, with Vili Kaufusi scoring Forbes' lone five-pointer in the second period.
"Emus were just too good for us [on Saturday], it really was that simple," Forbes captain-coach Jack Hammond said.
"Even though they were only a couple of points ahead of us on the table and, results wise, hadn't been going all that well they really showed us where the standard is in terms of those top three sides I guess.
"So we'll just need to go back and work harder to stay in touch with them, we know where we went wrong at the very least, just one of those days really."
- ORANGE EMUS 59 (Matt Findlay 3, Lachlan Harris 2, Charlie Henley, Tom Joseph, Tom Green, TJ Cunynghame tries; Nigel Staniforth 7 conversions) def FORBES PLATYPI 17 (Jarrod Hall, Vili Kaufusi tries; Angus King 2 conversions, penalty goal)
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