Group 11 2017: Grace and Forbes Magpies aiming for back-to-back premierships

FULL OF EFFORT: Warren Peachey and Dubbo Westside showed improvement on Sunday but Forbes was still too strong. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

FULL OF EFFORT: Warren Peachey and Dubbo Westside showed improvement on Sunday but Forbes was still too strong. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

The final margin was 36 points but Forbes Magpies captain-coach Jake Grace stated Sunday’s win over Dubbo Westside wasn’t an easy one.

All eyes were on the Rabbitohs after the 102-0 drubbing at the hands of CYMS in round one and the faithful fans were pleased to see the men in red and green show much more fight at No. 1 Oval.

Grace stated a lack of fitness and conditioning cost Westside late in the match as Forbes ran away with it but added the final result wasn’t proof of how physical the match was.

The contest was highlighted by a number of bone-rattling tackles and Grace admitted it was pleasing to have his defending premiers tested up front.

“In all honesty a 102-0 shellacking is no good for anyone,” Grace said of Westside’s round one result.

“To their credit they were tough and really stuck it to us. It was a good, tough game and we scored a few late on so they can’t let their heads hang too low.

“Their attitude was good, they kept turning up and kept stinging us.”

While praising Westside, Grace was also delighted with his own team’s effort.

The Magpies have now scored 106 points in two matches and conceded just 30 after wins over the Wellington Cowboys and the Rabbitohs.

“Admittedly they’re probably not two of the big-name teams like CYMS but we’re happy to just keep on progressing,” Grace said.

Line defence was a big part of Forbes’ win and while much is made of the powerful Magpies pack it was some of the backs who lit up the contest.

Centre Joseph Coe scored a double while fullback Jesse Wighton was a standout and also got across the line.

Prop Zac Merritt starred up front and scored a double and led the way for Forbes but Grace was delighted with the way his entire squad has started the season.

“To be honest, the attitude is everything. It was all last year and there’s definitely no premiership hangover,” he said.

“We’ve got to earn our stripes again. What happened last year doesn’t matter, reputations don’t matter. We know we’ve got to earn our stripes but we’re striving for the premiership.

“That’s what we want, to win it again.”

Halfback Matt Roylance again steered the side around and scored after missing the bulk of last season through injury.

For Westside, captain-coach Colt Tairua led the way and starred for his side, scoring one of his side’s two tries from lock.

The Rabbitohs will again be at home next weekend and will take on the Wellington Cowboys, also winless after the opening two rounds, while Forbes will face its biggest test when it plays host to Dubbo Macquarie.

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