Both Orange Emus and Cowra picked up comfortable, bonus point wins on Saturday afternoon, slashing the odds of the two sides' final round showdown transforming into a Blowes Clothing Cup minor premiership decider.
Emus took care of Forbes 38-19 while Cowra hammered Orange City 59-nil on Saturday to maintain the status quo, with the defending champions holding a four-point buffer at the top from the second-placed Eagles.
History suggests both sides will win their next two games and, while bonus points appear crucial, it's increasingly likely Emus' final round trip to Cowra will decide the minor title and with it the host of the major semi-final.
The minor premiership, however, hasn't even been mentioned at Endeavour Oval yet, with co-coach Matt Campbell saying his side still has plenty to work on after a somewhat patchy performance in Saturday's victory.
"We haven't spoken about [the minor premiership] at all, no, we're just focusing on getting to where we want to be come finals time and we've still got a lot to improve on," Campbell said.
"I think we were closer to our best on Saturday, when it all clicked it was pretty good to watch and we scored points in those periods but we also let ourselves down a bit discipline wise, which is something we'll work on.
"It's always pleasing to get a win over Forbes though, they're tough and they get up for games against us. They beat us in Forbes in round seven as well so it was good to get that one back, particularly with a bonus point too."
Emus rocketed to a 12-nil lead inside the opening 15 minutes as Jamil Khalfan and Charlie Henley crossed, with Gus Roberts landing his first shot at goal before hooking his second wide of the left upright.
Despite being forced onto the back foot by conceding a string of half a dozen penalties in a row, the greens extended that lead to 19 in the shadows of half-time with a converted Lachie Harris try.
Forbes five-eighth Mahe Fanugo looked for an opportunistic chip over Emus' line which only made it as far as Harris' bread-basket, who gleefully ran 50 metres untouched to extend his side's lead.
Fangupo made up for it on the stroke of the break though, darting over from a quick tap on the back of another string of penalties, which fullback Daniel Sweeney converted from out wide.
The first 20 minutes of the second half were all Emus' though as Tom Joseph and Tom Dewhurst both crashed over to extend the greens' lead to 33-7, all but pushing the game out of Platypi's reach.
As Campbell and fellow co-coach Pete Bromley rolled their interchange on the greens' discipline slipped again, and Forbes crossed twice through Tom Maguire and Charlie French.
Emus did have the final say though as Henley scored his second, another from a rolling maul, in the final play of the game.
"We probably let Forbes back into the game giving away those back-to-back penalties, they took a few of their opportunities but we're still pleased to go into the bye week with a win," Campbell said.
Forbes, however, go into next weekend's general bye after two consecutive defeats after suffering a narrow, eight-point loss to Cowra the week prior.
Despite the losses the Platypi hold on fourth spot though, where they'll likely stay considering they're 10 points of fifth-placed Dubbo.
Those two sides also face off in the final round, a potentially decisive one for the mid-table too.
"Two losses in a row isn't ideal but we know where we need to improve, so we'll work on those little things and try to get back in the winners' circle against Orange City next week," French said.
"We were a bit slow out of the gates and Emus made the most of that and once we were down by 19 we were probably chasing the game a bit.
"We were good in patches and kept ourselves in it, but we had opportunities and we didn't take a lot of them, particularly in the first half. That showed on the scoreboard in the end."
- ORANGE EMUS 38 (Charlie Henley 2, Lachie Harris, Jamil Khalfan, Tom Dewhurst, Tom Joseph tries; Gus Roberts 4 conversions) def FORBES PLATYPI 19 (Charlie French, Mahe Fangupo, Tom Maguire tries; Daniel Sweeney 2 conversions)
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