Last Sunday Glen Willow hosted the last ever City-Country representative game, and it was a massive fixture for the town.
This week the Mudgee Dragons return to the paddock in another massive fixture, as the defending premiers welcome the undefeated Orange CYMS in the grand final rematch.
It was all one way traffic in the first half in Sunday’s decider rematch at Glen Willow Sporting Complex, with the traveling CYMS putting in a scintillating performance first stanza performance to shock the Dragons.
The green and golds piled on 22 unanswered points in the opening half, blowing the Dragons off their home paddock to remain unbeaten on top of the competitions standings.
They scored first in the second period as well, the 28-point buffer proving more than enough as CYMS ultimately ran out 32-12 victors.
With the barnstorming Jack Afamasaga returning, all eyes were on his battle with Chris Bamford.
Bamford won it though, opening the scoring for CYMS in the 10th minute.
Lachlan Munro, Ryan Griffin and Bronx Goodwin also scored in the first period, with fullback Ben McAlpine kicking two from four to give his side a 22-0 lead at half-time.
Mudgee’s only real hope came through Tim Condon, who found space midway through the half but fumbled over the line.
Goodwin touched down again straight after half-time before Mudgee finally opened its account, with Joel Bodium scoring.
It’s just a pity it was too late.
Lee Hicks crossed not long after for the hosts as well, but CYMS held firm for the remainder of the game and Joey Lasagavibau capped off his side’s electrifying performance with a last-minute four-pointer.
CYMS now return to the colour city with two competition points and their undefeated record, and control of the table top, unbroken.
The Dragon’s head coach, Peter Hickman, always knew that the game was going to be tough and praise Mick Sullivan’s outfit.
“Mick won't want to drop one game in the season,” Hickman said.
“We have to be ready for them when the finals come around, and we came from deep last year but that’s not to say that it could happen again this year.”
Hickman was pleased with how the Dragons came out of the sheds in the second half, but knew that the first half was a cause for concern.
“We started behind the eight-ball in the first half and didn’t start the way that we wanted to,” he said.
“They were getting a lot of forward momentum through their forwards and capitalised on the back of that ruck after ruck.
“To be behind by 22 points at half time meant we had to get a few tries in the second half and panic them, and we did that to a certain degree – they weren’t as good in the second half either.”
With nine players still out for the Dragons, including star recruit Corin Smith (injury) and lethal winger Nathan Orr (suspension) among others, Hickman is expecting the squad to get back to full strength in the coming weeks.
“We’re not dissatisfied at the moment and we’re certainly in it when those guys start to come back,” he said.
“The suspended guys have two or three weeks to go but guys will start to drift back in to training and the game over the next few sessions.
“Corin is only a couple of weeks away, and there are fair few of the other – seven of the nine – that have won the Group 10 competition before.”
Next week sees the Dragons on the road again to take on the struggling Blayney Bears.