Derbies between Orange Emus and Orange City are always cracking contests no matter the age group or grade, and that was proven in the Central West Junior Rugby Union grand final at Pride Park on Saturday.
The Lions delighted the home crowd with a 22-10 victory over the greens to cap off a dream home grand final victory, with man-of-the-match Harry Kukla and co-captain Angus Tremain both leading the way with two tries apiece.
It was Emus' Levi Jackson who opened the scoring in the left corner about 10 minutes into the contest to put Emus 5-nil up despite early Lions momentum.
However, that was reversed when Tremain plucked one out of play and stormed towards the line, giving a fist pump to the hundreds-strong crowd and putting the scores level only minutes after Jackson's try.
Tremain's run - which was nearly 40 metres - was soon to be outdone as the play of the day after Harry Kukla stepped up just before half time.
The ball found its way to try-scoring machine Kukla in defence, 80 metres from the Orange City defensive line, and the barnstorming No.8 bullocked his way through at least half a dozen Emus defenders and broke through the line.
He kept running, with no Emus defenders able to get near him as he completed the ridiculous 80-metre try just next to the uprights, which Tremain duly converted on a cold and windy day not suited for kicking.
It's been such a hard year for the seniors and we've been going so well, it was a [good] day for rugby.Orange City coach Deryck Ward
Tremain would open the scoring in the second half and while Emus No.9 Angus Cornish would go over and give Emus a sniff at 17-10 with 20 minutes to play, Kukla put paid to any hopes of a comeback, with a run from the defensive side of the halfway line to cross for his second try to put the Lions up 22-10 with 15 minutes to play.
While Tamatekapua Nixon was bizarrely carded with five minutes to go, sending the Lions down to 14 on the field and Emus attack intensifying, Orange City held off pushes forward to claim what coach Deryck Ward called an "unbelievable" win.
"It's been such a hard year for the seniors and we've been going so well, it was a [good] day for rugby," he said.
Ward could hardly get a word in through pride and streams of the orange and green faithful coming to congratulate him.
"You look at the girls and the boys and the camaraderie in the team ... to have it at your home ground," he said, gesturing to the support.
"That's just topped the year off for how it should be, they played all the technical stuff and the stuff we'd been teaching them.
"It was hard, they had a few calls which didn't go their way but it was a good day of rugby."
Ward said it was a "cracking game" with Emus continually pressing and holding his troops accountable to the last minutes.
His opposite number in Emus coach Paul Ringland said he was "proud" of his players for their efforts not just on Saturday but for the year.
"We just asked them to put all their effort in and every player did that," he said.
"I thought our structure was really good and Harry [Kukla] was probably the difference in the end."
He said it continued the tradition of "really high standard" games between the two clubs, and noted the phenomenal crowd support for both sides.
"It's awesome for rugby in this town to see two young teams go at it and see the town come out and support it."
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