There was a point in Saturday’s New Holland Agriculture Cup second grade grand final when Narromine scrumhalf Johnny Robertson was forced off with a hand injury.
In the time he was off, Ryan Pratten came on and while he didn’t let his side down, there was a number of passes he threw which fell short of the target and went to ground.
It didn’t stop the Gorillas from claiming a fantastic and tough 7-3 victory over Blayney but it did spark some fear about how Pratten would perform in the first grade fixture.
The experienced campaigner had been called into the top side after regular number nine Jono Sharkey, one of the undoubted stars of the 2018 campaign, was ruled out with a broken thumb.
It marked just the second time this season Pratten had started in first grade.
The doubts around Pratten only grew after the first half of the main game, with the Gorillas down by 15 points to a Parkes Boars side led around brilliantly by the halves combination of captain-coach Josh Miles and Lloyd Rogers.
But Pratten, a multiple Blowes Clothing Cup premiership winner, came to the fore when his side needed it.
He put coach Craig Campbell over for the Gorillas first try 10 minutes into the second half and was a picture of calmness and control from there on.
He played a perfect supporting role for flyhalf and New Holland Agriculture Cup player of the year, George Hancock, and guided his side to a stunning 19-15 grand final victory.
“Oh, Pratto,” Campbell laughed post-game, stating it was the sixth time the pair had played together in a grand final in the past 12 years.
“We’re pretty tight and he gave me that try. He’s a very special man.
“Losing Sharkey, he’s a great player but ‘Pratto’ was just the best replacement for him. He’s a bit of a special boy.”
It was a memorable day for the club, winning both titles in the first year of the revamped Central West Rugby Union second tier competition.
The Gorillas had stepped up from the GrainCorp Cup to contest the New Holland Agriculture Cup, meaning it had to field two grades for the first time since 2016.
In terms of population, Narromine and Blayney were the smallest centres in the competition.
“Both grades, it’s amazing,” Campbell said.
“When we started this year we thought we’d be in the mix, but nothing like this.
“It’s a good year.”