DUBBO has assumed the mantle as the premier city in central west rugby after the Kangaroos gave Orange Emus a start and a beating in Saturday's Blowes Clothing Cup grand final at No.1 Oval.
The final scoreline of 42-24 in favour of Paul Hennock's men wouldn't have been predicted by anyone after the visitors jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but through a combination of a dominant forward pack and a lethal backline the Roos were able to reel in the deficit and make the decider a one-act affair.
"For 60 minutes we were the dominant team and I can't talk enough about some of the boys who had their best game of the year," Hennock said afterwards.
"They've been playing for each other all year and this is the reward for that.
"Our plan was to go through the forwards and we dominated there. If we had tried to do it through the backs we wouldn't have got anywhere.
"Our forwards have been improving week-in, week-out and our scrums, lineouts and rucks and mauls all came together at the right end of the year."
The early stages of the match belonged to Dubbo but they couldn't capitalise on their field position advantage in the initial stages.
Emus made them pay when Nigel Staniforth slotted a penalty after Scott Burgess was sin-binned for a dangerous throw, before a Simon Badgery break led to Tom Green scoring the first try of the match in the 13th minute and the visitors had established a 10-0 buffer.
The Roos forward pack, which had been questioned in the week leading up to the grand final, established dominance through the scrum and then in general play as front-rower Max Ma'a Nelson got the hosts back into the contest when he barged over from close range 15 minutes before half-time.
His try settled Dubbo's nerves and they followed up shortly after when fellow prop Tim Cullenward crossed to put the Roos in front, and the margin was extended to 11 points when Brad Pugh bagged a five-pointer and James Mata converted just prior to the break.
The early minutes of the second half were the opposite of the first, with Emus building pressure without reward before Burgess broke the game open with a break through the centre of the field before finding Mata, who ran 30 metres to score out wide.
The winger converted his own try to make the score 28-10 and while the Roos were looking good, Emus wouldn't go away.
With the warm conditions taking their toll on both sides, the game opened up and the sides went try-for-try over the final 20 minutes.
Replacement back Sam Ryan gave Emus a sniff when he scored to whittle the margin back to 11 but Anthony Golding's try for Roos in the 68th minute all-but sealed the win for the home side.
Emus fullback Tim Allison bagged his side's third try of the day four minutes later but it was left to Roos skipper Peter Nau to score the final try of the season two minutes prior to referee Nathan Pearce blowing full-time.
"It's very disappointing we didn't play the game we wanted to today," Emus coach Andrew Logan said.
"Some of that was down to pressure from Dubbo, they're worthy champions. They were minor premiers and they were very, very good today.
"They played smart footy. I don't know what our turnover count was, somewhere around 13, 14 or 15 probably and there's no way you can turn over that much ball in a grand final.
"We knew they would play it through the forwards, play that pick and drive style, but we hoped we'd keep the ball longer than we did to combat that."
DUBBO KANGAROOS 42 (Max Ma'a Nelson, Tim Cullenward, Brad Pugh, James Mata, Anthony Golding, Peter Nau tries; Mata 6 convs) def ORANGE EMUS 24 (Tom Green, Sam Ryan, Tim Allison tries; Nigel Staniforth 3 convs, 1 pen)