Preparation the key as dominant Lions ready to explode on the big stage

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: Oscar Watson has the rare opportunity to skipper a premiership side, his Lions tackle Dubbo in Saturday's under-15 grand final. Photo: AMY McINYTRE
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: Oscar Watson has the rare opportunity to skipper a premiership side, his Lions tackle Dubbo in Saturday's under-15 grand final. Photo: AMY McINYTRE

The Orange City Lions haven’t slowed down or eased off at training leading into Saturday’s Central West Junior Rugby Union under-15 grand final against Dubbo Kangaroos Blue, and that has the side primed to explode in the decider.

The young Lions have been the competition’s dominant side all season and cruised into the grand final so, to make sure there’s no chance of complacency, co-coaches George Connaughton and John Nunn have put them through their paces in a big way leading in.

Particularly on Tuesday night, when the side went hammer-and-tongs at each other in a brutal heavy contact session.

“We were actually thinking about training last weekend with the week off, but we decided not to change what we’ve been doing, and just put them through the tough stuff on Tuesday,” Connaughton said.

“It was a really good session, they’re all really excited for the weekend, they’re pumped, they’re ready to go.”

Connaughton confirmed the Lions’ grand final side will be unchanged from the one that downed Dubbo Blue 48-10 in the major semi-final a fortnight ago, adding that nothing in the way the side plays will change either.

We’ll just try and do what we did in the major semi-final.

Orange City co-coach George Connaughton

“Obviously grand finals are a little bit different (but) nothing needs to change really, they’ve played some really good rugby in the last few weeks so we’ll just try and do what we did in the major semi-final,” he explained.

“They’re getting to the stage where they can play with a bit more freedom, because they’re using their brains a lot more in terms of the way they play.

“They’re talking about line-speed and all those little things that do win you big games so we, as coaches, have actually been able to sit back a bit and let them figure a lot of things out for themselves.”

Should the young Lions win it’ll be the second premiership trophy the club will add to its trophy cabinet this year, with Orange City’s colts getting the job done, also against Roos.

“Watching the colts win has given them a real boost. They’re looking at those guys and thinking ‘we want to be the next team to really bring it home for the club’, you know,” Connaughton said, adding last year’s under-15 decider loss is the complete opposite.

“We’ve probably got half the group from that loss still here but it hasn’t been mentioned once, I don’t think it’s a factor.

“Everyone’s just pretty focused on what this group can do, and they’re a great bunch too.

“Like any side they give each other a sledge here and there but they genuinely do have each others’ backs and they want to do it for each other. That’s part of the reason they’ve done so well this year I think.”

Naturally Connaughton said he and Nunn will look to the side’s big names – think Oscar Watson, Noa Fraser and Ollie Connaughton –  to stand up and lead the way, before highlighting a couple of youngsters who often fly under the radar but have just as big an impact.

A GREAT GROUP: Orange City's under 15s, all smiles before a brutal contact session that has them primed for the decider. Photo: GEORGE CONNAUGHTON

A GREAT GROUP: Orange City's under 15s, all smiles before a brutal contact session that has them primed for the decider. Photo: GEORGE CONNAUGHTON

“Jack Gordon is a kid who’s always been a really good toiler in the second row, but in the last few games he’s produced some really good performances, pound for pound,” Connaughton said.

“He’s starting to turn into a really good leader in the pack, and someone like Harry McGregor has done really well this year too. We used him a bit in the backs, but he’s gone onto the back of the scrum and his height is a big advantage there.

“They are just a good group though ... everyone here does their job and does it well, it puts us in a pretty good spot.”

The Lions were presented their grand final jumpers by Orange City legend Josh Tremain as well, on Thursday night at training.

Kick-off in Saturday’s decider is at 11am, at Forbes’ Grinsted Oval.

  • ORANGE CITY LIONS: 1 Hugh Vaughan, 2 Oscar Watson ©, 3 Henry Bracey, 4 Thomas Bray, 5 Jack Gordon, 6 Harry McGregor, 7 Archie Sippel, 8 Fritz Jahnke Tavana, 9 Harry West, 10 Harrison Grant, 11 Will Burdack, 12 Noa Fraser, 13 Ollie Connaughton, 14 Charlie Sutton, 15 Raph Wald; Bench: 16 Hugh Nunn, 17 Blair Ward, 18 Darcy Schofield, 19 Lance Milne, 20 Jordan Wilkin, 21 Quaye Smit, 22 Angus Lewis-Minogue, 23 Hayden Mulligan, 24 Bryce Evans, 25 William Meacham

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