The 2018 Central West Rugby Union season is in the books, Emus, Narromine, Geurie, Harden and the Bathurst Bulldogs women all claiming top grade titles in their respective premiership races.
Here’s a different look at the year in rugby:
A – Absurd
Lloyd Rogers’ conversion in the shadows of full-time to lock up the score at 34-all with CSU and send the New Holland Agriculture Cup preliminary final into extra-time was just that – absurd.
In gale-force conditions, the ball fell off the tee twice as the Welsh gun lined-up the potential equaliser but Rogers, cool as a cucumber, picked up the ball and drop-kicked it over for the two points, despite a throng of CSU pressure from the goal-line.
Parkes went on to win 41-34, booking passage into the grand final. A remarkable finish to a classic.
B – Brutal. Brainy. Bullish. Beloved. Brickie. Bubb-alicious
Right, Bubb-alicious might be taking it too far, but few players divide opinion quite like Kyran Bubb – physical, uncompromising and with a knack of getting under the skin of the opposition.
There were plenty of question marks on his play in the No.10 for Emus during the season, but he rose to the occasion in the big games, and is now a premiership-winner in both rugby union and rugby league, which is a rare feat, as a result.
Doubtful he’ll be receiving any Christmas cards from anyone at the Bulldogs this festive season.
C – Colts
A worry, and a big one for CWRU during 2018.
After demanding teams in the top tier field an under 20s team, both Cowra and Forbes eventually failed to do so, meaning last year’s competition had a pretty paltry total of just four teams.
That can’t happen again next season, and what form the CWRU offers a colts premiership in 2019 remains one of the big questions leading into the new year.
D and E – dominant Emus
The bottle green era stretched into the 2018 season. Endeavour Oval hosted its fourth straight grand final, while the club’s first grade side played in its fifth consecutive big dance, winning a third crown.
This decade has belonged to Emus and there’s no signs of it slowing down in 2019 either. A sixth-straight grand final appearance is there for the taking for the club.
They achieve that, and a fourth title, the club will join rarefied air in the Central West.
EMUS SHINE ON GRAND STAGE: Greens prove experience counts in third title in four years
F – Fritz Jahnke Tavana
Fritz Jahnke Tavana – remember that name.
The Orange City junior is a dead-set giant, and helped the Lions to a commanding under 15s premiership win at Forbes’ Grinsted Oval over a gallant but out-gunned Dubbo Roos side.
Roos won the under 13s, while Narromine won the under 17s to cap a tremendous junior grand final day lake-side at Forbes.
G – Glasson, Brad Glasson
While some may not have agreed, Brad Glasson was a deserved winner of the CWRU player of the year gong.
Young, brash and ready to take over – he’s the face of the resurgent Bulldogs.
You get the feeling next season will be covered in blue and gold if the likes of Glasson and the other Bulldog pups continue to grow under the leadership of Dean Oxley.
H – #Hashtags
Bad ones, mainly.
And #ThisisDUBBOthisisROOcountry would rank among the worst, of all time. It’s a stinker, a bit like Roos’ 2018 season.
Lift, boys. You can do better, on and off the field is seems.
GORILLAS GO BACK-TO-BACK: Narromine fights back to claim New Holland Agriculture Cup crown
I – Internationals
Stephen Moore, Jeremy Paul, Dean Mumm, Justin Harrison, Morgan Turinui … these former Wallabies all laced up the boots in the Central West during the season.
The Cauliflower Cup was a raging success at Forbes for the Platypi old boys day while the Classic Wallabies game in Orange was also a hit. Nostalgia’s not bad, is it?
J – big Joe Dakuitoga
Normally not big on players laying down, particularly for no reason … but big Joe Dakuitoga is an exception.
He laid down that often during the 2018 season it looked as though he was auditioning to be the purple wiggle. Wake up, Joe.
When he wasn’t on the deck, though, big Joe was dynamic for the resurgent Eagles. Big, strong, sound at the set piece and, like every good prop worth his salt, happy to throw the ball around.
K – Kangaroos
After semi-hammering them earlier in this review, it’s time to throw the Dubbo Roos some love.
Bringing Beau Robinson back to the club as a coaching coordinator was huge for the region, anytime a former Wallaby lands back in the Central West it always is.
The Kangaroos battled injury big time in 2018 and if the rugby Gods are just the club will enjoy a big 2019 under the guidance of the former Australian flanker.
L – Lions
Orange City was horribly disappointing in 2018. No-one was at training. Continuity was non-existent. The results didn’t come. It was very un-Orange City.
On a brighter note, the club won the colts premiership with a stunning upset over Dubbo Roos.
Still, the Lions need plenty of improvement to be competitive in 2019. Will Viv Passi be the change the club so desperately needs?
LIONS STORM TO COLTS TITLE: City snatches grand final redemption with stunning, one-point upset of Roos | Photos, videos
M – Momentous
It’s the only way to describe Harden’s rise in the south in 2018.
The club’s 12-5 title victory in a slug-fest of a grand final against Temora capped a stunning transformation for the Red Devils, 12 months after failing to win a game and finishing last.
N – No defence? No worries
Some of the best games we saw this season were high-scoring epics – the Dogs’ one win over Emus in 2018 was a 39-35 thriller while the Eagles flexed their muscle against premiers Forbes with a 46-33 classic in the final round.
In the New Holland Cup, CSU ran rampant in a 55-33 win over Mudgee while the students went down 41-34 against Parkes in an extra-time preliminary final beauty.
I know penalty goals are a vital part of the 15-man code, and super boots are great to watch, but running rugby is alive and well in Central West. Let it sing.
O – O’Connor, Jack
The Harden Red Devil stepped up to kick the biggest penalty goal of the season while playing with the Blue Bulls at Warren.
With Central West trailing 34-33 and their first choice kicker in Lloyd Rogers unable to take the shot, O’Connor stepped up to ice the deciding points and give the Blue Bulls a memorable win over Newcastle-Hunter in their Caldwell Cup opener.
P – Pirate jerseys
Forbes wins the award for the most-out-there jumper worn, in any code, throughout 2018.
The club’s charity day pirate inspired jumpers were something else. All Jack Hammond needed was the eye patch.
Q – (sounds like) Cue
There’s sure to be a cue at the Cowra Rugby Ground canteen in season 2019 after the club produced that pulled-beef-with-the-lot monster. Incredible. Bring it back. See you round one, I’ll take 10.
R – Rivalries
There’s plenty of them, in just about every sport really. But in 2018 our attention was drawn to one in particular – the Geurie-Wellington rivalry.
There’s genuine disdain from both camps towards the other, and the fact the two small-town teams got the chance to play-off in a grand final adds another truly special chapter to what we’ll go ahead and call a book of feuds.
The Goats though, proved too good. Wonder what chapter 2019 holds?
“We’re a core group of farmers or people in agribusiness and we all feel it. It’s been good to have this and forget about that for awhile. It’s special.”— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) August 18, 2018
It’s more than a grand final win for Narromine. This unbeaten season has provided so much for a town doing it tough. #CWRU18pic.twitter.com/LfLxhK8z0d
S – Shute Shield
‘If every club had regional games, can you imagine the impact that would have on rugby union?’ – Eastern Suburbs president John Murray after he confirmed the club would again stage a Shute Shield clash at Wade Park.
Not every club has taken the Beaties’ lead, but Eastwood did and took one of their games against Norths to Cowra.
They’re small steps, but important ones as historic Sydney clubs look to strengthen ties with country rugby. It’s great to see.
T – Tink
Strong opening term to his three-year deal at the helm of Central West. Plenty of work still to be done, but Tink is on the right track.
U – Undefeated
Narromine. The only side to do it. Incredible from the Gorillas, especially in the face of an almighty challenge from Parkes on grand final day.
These old blokes up at Narromine continue to prove age is just a number.
V – Voodoo
There’s some odd magic that curses the Bulldogs every time they head west on the Mitchell Highway.
The Bathurst club hasn’t won at Endeavour Oval in Orange since the Dogs beat Emus 28-17 in round 10 of 2010 – that’s right, nine seasons.
In 2018, Emus and Bulldogs clashed on four occasions at Chook Park, the hosts coming up trumps each time.
54 | Emus try!! They're full of running at the moment.— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) August 25, 2018
Huge scrum and the greens pack works their way forward, Scott McLean the try-scorer! Nigel from the sideline is good, so clutch.
It's now all of a sudden Emus up 23-11 #CWRU18pic.twitter.com/ESBJazzyKT
It’s a brilliant run of outs – can the Dogs break the curse in 2019?
W – Woolmington
Shoulders, McLaren and co. might have come away with the bikkies in the grand final, but the first Westfund Ferguson Cup undoubtedly belonged to the CSU star, Claire Woolmington.
Speed and a brilliant ability to read the game, the cross-code star is one to watch as the women’s game continues to grow.
FERGUSON CUP GLORY FOR SHOULDERS: Bulldogs’ girls go back-to-back in CWRU’s women’s title race
X – Can X be for xpansion? In this case, why not ...
Young, Boorawa, Harden, Cootamundra …. the Central West’s invasion south is a huge boon for the game in the region, and makes the now-named Oilsplus Cup south west premiership race one of the best in Central West.
Y – Yardstick
Sharnah Stevens was just that in 2018, in terms of point-scoring for the whole region.
She scored points for fun, basically, the West Wyalong powerhouse storming to 281 points – including a simply incredible 37 tries – in just 13 games for the red and blacks.
Z – Zyzzyva
No idea what it means, and certainly not a rugby term, but dish this bad boy out on a triple-word-score in a game of scrabble and it’s worth 129 points. Game over.
See you in 2019.