The old Orange Emus and Dubbo Roos rivalry has sparked back up in 2020 following a cracking Blowes Clothing Cup encounter between the two unbeaten sides on Saturday.
Emus came out on top 20-7 after a grueling 80 minutes in cold, drizzling rain but it was the odd spot fire between the two sides' packs that would have warmed the hearts of the old boys clinging to their refreshments at the can van.
Twice the two sides came together in the second half, the first after a crucial Jack Marchinton try in the 50th minute to shoot the hosts out to a telling 15-7 lead.
It was Emus flanker Sam Greatbatch who was on the receiving end of most of the Roos attention, particularly from star centre Filisione Pauta, and it wouldn't be the only clash between young-gun flanker and the Dubbo boys.
With Roos still trying to work their way back from that eight-point deficit, a hit after a penalty brought Roos' lock Will Michell and Greatbatch together.
No punches were thrown and both players remained on the field but it was Emus who rallied the quickest after the altercation and, at the death, used the weight of possession it wrestled off Roos to score via speedy five-eighth Carter Hirini to wrap up an unbeaten first round.
Emus and Roos have clashed in a number of big games throughout Central West Rugby Union's history, the latest the 2014 grand final won by Dubbo.
And after Saturday's 13-point Emus victory, you get the feeling there's a few more pulsating chapters set to be etched into the code's history books in 2020.
"It's always a tough hit-out against Dubbo and it's good to get the win," Emus' best Marchinton said.
I know a few teams have talked (Emus' set-piece) down, but after this it's probably an area a few other teams need to work on.Orange Emus' flanker Jack Marchinton
"Sam Greatbatch ... he definitely doesn't mind getting stuck into a few of the boys, it's good to have him on our side."
Emus' win secured last year's runners-up four wins from four games heading into the only bye the club has in 2020.
In that run, the greens have been immense through the middle of the field and on Saturday against Roos the club's pack was again its cornerstone.
A powerful scrum and a clinical line-out helped Emus' post first points through prop Archie Hall at the back end of a tense first half.
A successful penalty goal just before the break off the boot of Jamil Khalfan kicked Emus to an eight-point lead at the break, an advantage that looked small on face value but given the conditions was always going to be tough for Roos to inch back.
They went some of the way towards doing that just after the break when five-eighth Jake Styles sliced through to score just next to the posts three minutes into the second half, and down 8-7 the unbeaten visitors had their tails up.
But Emus soon went back to the tried and true, and through the likes of Charlie Henley, Nas Havealeta and Hall up front, and the terrorising work of Greatbatch, Marchinton and Scott McLean at the ruck, powered to victory.
Marchinton said Emus' pack has had a point to prove over the opening round - and they did that in style on Saturday.
"I know a few teams have talked (Emus' set-piece) down, but after this it's probably an area a few other teams need to work on," he said.
"It's good to be able to play with same group for last four or five years, and our bench has been great all season."
Roos co-coach Jason Coyle said his side's lack of game management was telling against a quality side that for large periods of the game "dominated" come scrum time.
"It's an area we'll be focusing on and we'll be ready next time we meet them. It's a strength we need to match," Coyle said.
"Being a shortened season we've really got a limited time to come together as a group so we have to come together at training and make the next couple of games count."
Roos' 17-year-old fullback Jayden Blake was sensational for the visitors, while Styles was another of the Dubbo club's best.
- ORANGE EMUS 20 (Archie Hall, Jack Marchinton, Carter Hirini tries; Jamil Khalfan conv; Jamil Khalfan pen goal) def DUBBO ROOS 7 (Jake Styles try; Jake Styles conv)
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