Emus face surging Wombats

LOCKING IT DOWN: Emus vice-captain Nick Hughes-Clapp comes back into the greens' starting XV after a week off. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

LOCKING IT DOWN: Emus vice-captain Nick Hughes-Clapp comes back into the greens' starting XV after a week off. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

Orange Emus coach Paul Ringland has no clue what to expect from Mudgee on Saturday, none whatsoever.

For the first half of the season the Wombats looked hard-pressed to win a game and then to compound the club’s player shortage former NSW Country Cockatoo Adam Rayner announced his retirement, due to health issues.

But despite that massive loss Mudgee has surged in recent weeks, winning two of three starts since the halfway point of the 2017 Blowes Clothing Cup season.

Mudgee, stunningly, reversed round one’s 95-14 loss against Parkes to won the corresponding round 10 fixture 17-14. 

Then the Wombats downed Dubbo Rhinos 36-14, with a loss to Bathurst Bulldogs in between.

“Mudgee looks in pretty good nick, they’ve won a couple recently so it seems like they’re stronger than were earlier in the year but no, we’re not really sure what to expect,” Ringland admitted.

“I think they are still struggling a little bit for players, particularly in the lower grades, but I guess we can’t really read into that too much.

“We can only prepare as best we can, and we’re preparing the same way we would if we were playing one of the sides at the top of the table.”

With that sense of unknown in mind, Ringland said his side’s focus has been inward this week. 

Although the greens haven’t been hit by injury anywhere near as hard as the likes of Orange City, the two-time defending premiers haven’t been able to field the same XV in consecutive weeks for some time.

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