01/9/2014 - Next stop … Orange City: Emus hold off Bulldogs in gritty semi-final

SEMI-FINAL SHOWDOWN: Orange Emus' Rob Thorburn is tackled on Sunday. Photo: STEVE GOSCH
ORANGE Emus have hung on to claim a gripping 28-19 minor semi-final victory over a Bathurst Bulldogs outfit on the wrong end of a 23-5 penalty count at Endeavour Oval on Sunday.

Clearly seething with their 2014 Blowes Clothing Cup rugby union campaign gone, the Bulldogs’ coaching staff were involved in a heated exchange with referee Charlie Simmons after the match, with the lopsided penalty count also resulting in both Dogs forwards Oliver Crowe and Alister Fryer receiving yellow cards for repeated infringements.

Down to 14 men twice in a do-or-die clash, Bathurst mentor Scott Johnston said it was a tough afternoon for his side.

“It’s just very hard on the back of what I think was a 26-5 penalty count,” Johnston said.

“And then you put that in to the possession they had, it’s hard to stay competitive, but I thought we were right in the game till the very end.

“We stayed in the game with our defence. It takes credit for the boys to keep backing up when pretty much every ruck there was a penalty blown or some sort of infringement.”

The nine-point Emus victory sets up a mouth-watering preliminary final clash with last year’s champions Orange City at Pride Park on Saturday, with the winner set to progress through to the Blowes Clothing Cup decider in a fortnight’s time at Dubbo’s No.1 Oval against minor premiers Roos.

For the hosts, the winning result was Emus’ first finals victory in over four years – a monkey coach Andrew Logan was desperate to remove from his side’s back.

“Absolutely. We just saw today what finals footy is about; just getting a result no matter what,” Logan said.

“They’re always very physical and it’s a tough outing against the Dogs.

“They’re up off the line, they carry hard, they work hard in the ruck and don’t give you anything for free, it was a good experience for us.”

Logan credited his side’s ability to place the visitors under pressure at the ruck as a means behind his side being awarded 23 penalties in 80 minutes, or one roughly every four minutes.

“They appear to be not too happy with the way things have played out,” he said.

“But I think we put them under pressure enough that they had to make some 50-50 plays on the ball and some of those didn’t pay off, and again that’s finals rugby too.”

A physical battle from the opening whistle, Bathurst went toe-to-toe with Emus for the duration of the 80 minutes, a feat made significantly tougher when Alex Weal was forced to leave the field after being knocked out cold in a heavy collision 20 minutes in.

The score switched hands for much of the first period, but ended in a 12-10 advantage to the Bulldogs thanks largely to a cracking try to Phil Tonkin on the verge of half-time.

But, by and large, the second stanza was Emus’.

Lifting in intensity, the greens scored first through the boot of Nigel Staniforth to edge ahead 13-12 before Adam Perri threw a beautiful cut-out pass to gift Carter Hirini his second five-pointer of the contest.

Leading 18-12 Emus went in for the kill, twice knocking back the opportunity for three points to hunt for a try.

It was a decision that reaped rich rewards.

Showing sheer determination, Perri reached out to score a great solo try and lift the hosts out to a 25-12 lead with nine minutes remaining.

The Bulldogs’ reply was swift in the form of Jack Roberson’s second try for the afternoon, but it wasn’t enough as Staniforth nailed a 30-metre penalty goal at the death to bump the hosts out to a 28-19 lead and book a place in next week’s preliminary final with City.

“We’ll be up for that but it’s the third time in four weeks so it’s a bit of groundhog day,” Logan said of his side’s trip to Pride Park. “It’s not just because it’s City, we want to go all the way if we can.”

The Bathurst pack was enormous for the visiting Bulldogs, while Emus’ best were Tim Alison and a very damaging Rob Thorburn.

ORANGE EMUS 28 (Carter Hirini 2, Adam Perri tries; Nigel Staniforth 2 conv; Nigel Staniforth 3 pen goals) def BATHURST BULLDOGS 19 (Jack Roberson 2, Phil Tonkin tries; Stephen Locke 2 conv).

taken from http://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/2525975/next-stop-orange-city-emus-hold-off-bulldogs-in-gritty-semi-final-gallery-video/?cs=104

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