Orange Emus are preparing for a preliminary final showdown against the rampant CSU after they ended West Wyalong's title bid in emphatic fashion in Saturday's semi-final at Cowra, the students scoring their second massive, sudden-death win on the trot.
While the minor premiership-winning greens enjoyed this weekend off after a qualifying final win CSU rolled to a 42-7 victory to back up their 60-point hammering of Mudgee the week prior and seize a mountain of momentum leading into next week's grand final qualifier.
CSU never looked threatened at Cowra Rugby Ground, the students' forward controlling the battle up front while their speedsters made the most of the space and time they provided to virtually score at will in the first two quarters.
They took advantage of West Wyalong's lack of discipline at the breakdown too and while the Redbacks' determination was rewarded with some consolatory points in the final term, the game was over by then.
Acting CSU Bathurst skipper Bridie Gordon, who directed traffic from five-eighth with aplomb, said her side is very much focused on Emus, but the fact they're one win away from a second straight grand final appearance isn't lost on her.
"[The dare to dream] is definitely creeping in there a little bit, I think all the girl's are getting a little bit excited," Gordon explained, her side recovering from a late-season slump and finding serious form in the last fortnight.
"We had a bit of a dip towards the end of the season there, we lost a few games by 60-odd points - we're not really used to that.
"There's a little bit of a fire in our bellies, I think it's definitely a doable thing now, we've knocked off a few of the good teams."
Gordon highlighted the effort of her pack, adding how important their performance will be against the powerhouse greens. Patience and control were two other aspects she said will be pivotal in next week's final, which is expected to be played at Emus' Endeavour Oval home.
"When [the forwards] are strong, us backs get to play with it, which is really nice, and they draw in a lot of the players, so we get a lot of room to play on the outside of the field, and we like doing that as well. We're going to have to turn around and do it again," she said.
West Wyalong's Renee Rossiter was quick to congratulate CSU and said the Redbacks were proud of their 2019 campaign, despite being bounced out of the finals in straight sets after finishing second, they went agonisingly close to winning the minor premiership too.
"We didn't put our heads down and we worked hard," she said.
"Good luck to all the girls going into the finals, and here's to women's rugby."
In Saturday's other semi-final Narromine, in their inaugural title tilt, continued their run from seventh with an incredible, 31-point upset of Temora.
If they turn it on against Bathurst next week I think they're a real shot.Temora skipper Nikki Jordan, on Narromine
The Gorillas ran rampant against the Tuskers, their fits and bursts performance netting a 50-19 victory and setting up a huge preliminary final clash against defending premiers Bathurst Bulldogs.
Beth Stace scored four of Narromine's eight tries and Alice Theberge took care of three more, and the Gorillas' performance was so emphatic it led to an exciting claim from Temora skipper Nikki Jordan after full-time.
"[Narromine] have a real shot at the title," she said, making the Gorillas' clash with Bulldogs all the more mouth-watering.
"The way they run off that backline... they're really difficult to defend against. If they turn it on against Bathurst next week I think they're a real shot."
Jordan went on to admit her side simply "didn't turn up" a week after pushing Emus to the absolute brink in the qualifying final, and said the Tuskers will look to build on their 2019 campaign next season.
Narromine led 17-nil at quarter-time but were pegged back a converted try and kept scoreless in the second, before running away with it in the second half.
Skipper and former Wallaroo Bec Smyth said she was particularly proud of her troops for holding off that second-quarter challenge.
She went on to say how excited the side is to be one win away from a grand final considering so many are first-year players, and didn't pull punches when focusing on their clash with Bulldogs.
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"I'm confident we can match these girls, we can take it to them," Smyth said.
"A lot of these girls have never played before so they're just really excited to be getting here (but) I truly believe we've got the ability. If we're on our game on the day, then anything can happen."
Narromine's showdown with Bulldogs is expected to be at Endeavour Oval as well.
- CSU BATHURST 47 (Nicole Kennedy 2, India Allen, Laura Belfanti, Bridie Gordon, Jacinta Cooper, Nicole Kennedy, Minna Annand tries; Ashleigh Bridge 5, Stephanie Doyle conversions) def WEST WYALONG REDBACKS 7 (Kenesha Stevens try; Stevens conversion)
- NARROMINE GORILLAS 50 (Beth Stace 4, Alice Theberge 3 Madeline Piccolo tries; Madeline Piccolo 5 conversions) def TEMORA TUSKERS 19 (unknown 3 tries; unknown 2 conversions)
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