21/8/2016 - Harris’ heroics get Emus home in derby

ALTHOUGH Orange Emus had to produce an unbelievable defensive effort to secure a 17-12 win over the Orange City Lions in Saturday’s Blowes Clothing Cup local derby at Pride Park, ultimately two moments of individual magic proved match-winning.

Both came from Emus winger Lachie Harris.

With Emus leading 7-0 in the shadows of half-time Orange City’s Jake Davis swooped on a loose ball in space, with no one in front of him he looked certain to score.

Instead, Harris chased Davis down from his wing and produced his first try-saving tackle of the afternoon.

Then with just five minutes left and Emus leading 17-12 Lions winger Keegan Harding found space, making a move for the right corner and like Davis, he looked certain to cross the stripe.

Harris stopped him too though and bundled him into touch for good measure.

For the 15 minutes prior to that stunning effort, and few minutes afterward, the Lions camped in Emus’ half and launched raid after raid in a bid to steal an upset victory, but the greens held them at bay to secure the five-point win.

“That last tackle was incredible, it really capped off Lachie’s day, he was outstanding,” Emus coach Paul Ringland said, Harris also produced a handful of other game-changing moments.

“That last try-saver was dominant and really got us out of a bit of trouble.”

The Lions weren’t without other chances during that 25-minute period either.

Thrice they sacrificed pretty straight-forward penalty goal opportunities to search for a five-pointer, they were held up once and bombed two overlaps by dropping it cold within metres of the line.

“We take our chances and we’d have been in the change rooms singing our song, but we didn’t so we’re talking about what went wrong. It’s that simple,” Orange City coach Steve Hamson said.

“We really had to dig in defensively, especially late and when we had a man in the sin-bin. The boys turned them away enough to scrape the win,” Ringland added.

The Lions were behind the eight ball immediately after Emus skipper Nigel Staniforth scored in the third minute and converted it, before flanker Feleti Wolfgramm was sin-binned from the resulting kick-off for a challenge in the air.

But the Lions held on stoically to only trail the greens 7-0 at half-time, which would probably have been 7-7 without Harris’ effort on Davis.

AJ Sykes finished an enterprising movement from Emus’ backs straight after half-time, latching on to an outrageous flick pass from Harris to score, giving the greens a 14-0 lead.

The greens looked likely to run away with the game at that point, until Cameron Cole sliced through to score for Orange City and Wolfgramm went in not long after to move within a try at 14-12.

In the 59th minute Staniforth stepped up and slotted a 50 metre penalty goal to push the deficit to five, where it stayed thanks to Harris’ and Emus’ stunning defensive efforts.

Emus will enjoy the week off before hosting the major semi-final in a fortnight.

“We needed a good, tough game leading into the finals and that’s exactly what we got,” Ringland said.

“Orange City really stuck it to us, they tested us big time so we’ll take confidence knowing we held that good a team out for so long.”

ORANGE EMUS 17 (AJ Sykes, Nigel Staniforth tries; Staniforth 2 conversion, penalty goal) def ORANGE CITY LIONS 12 (Cameron Cole, Feleti Wolfgramm tries; Keegan Harding conversion)

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