ORANGE Emus scored a third consecutive Blowes Clothing Cup victory on Saturday, with a dominant second-half performance securing a 31-12 win over Mudgee at Jubilee Oval, known as The Burrow to the Wombats' faithful.
The Wombats matched it with Emus in the opening 40 minutes, leading at one stage, before the reigning premiers piled on 24 points to seven in the second period to seal an ultimately comfortable victory.
"Our leaders really stood up," Emus coach Paul Ringland said.
"At half-time we had a good chat and everyone was really aware of where we were going wrong and where they were getting on top of us.
"It was a very tough clash, having lost the corresponding match last year we knew we had to turn up here ready to play a tough, hard game, and that's exactly what we got.
"Mudgee really bustled us hard, defended well and we had trouble putting phases together.
"At the end of the day we were fortunate to get away with a win really."
Mudgee gun Sam Schmidt burrowed over in the corner on the back of an early penalty to give the Wombats a 5-0 lead but Emus skipper Nigel Staniforth hit back almost immediately with a five-pointer of his own, which he duly converted before being forced from the field with an injury.
Lacking Staniforth's leadership, Emus faltered slightly and although Mudgee enjoyed a mountain of possession inside their half the greens held strong to lead 7-5 at half-time.
After the chat Ringland highlighted, Emus lifted their intensity and started producing the type of execution which led them to last year's title.
Former Sydney University flanker Josh Ellice-Flint scored a double - including one Herculean individual effort - while Lachlan Harris also crossed and English rookie sensation Todd Freedman picked up an intercept try
Freedman converted two of those, before Mudgee halfback Cameron Rosamund crossed for a consolation five-pointer late in the piece.
"Josh Ellice-Flint scored an amazing try, Zac White and Lachie Harris were running hard in the backs and got us going straight and our forwards started to maintain a bit of possession," Ringland said of the second half.
"We held our patience and held our nerve to get on top."
Though happy with his side's first half, Wombats Coach Neil McDonald said they let the visitors off the hook in the second.
"We didn't put enough pressure on them in the second half, in the first half we were doing alright, but in the second we dropped our intensity," he said.
ORANGE EMUS 31 (Josh Ellice-Flint 2, Nigel Staniforth, Todd Freedman, Lachie Harris tries; Freedman 2, Staniforth conv) def MUDGEE WOMBATS 12 (Sam Schmidt, Cameron Rosamund tries; Josh Cookson conv)