Led by huge showings from Greg Alderson and Sam Elrefaai, Lithgow Workies stunned an error-riddled Orange Hawks at Wade Park on Sunday afternoon, winning 44-16 to hand the two blues their first defeat of the 2018 Group 10 premier league season.
On the back of Workies’ tireless pack barnstorming centre Alderson scored a first-half hat-trick to inspire Lithgow’s 22-12 half-time lead, while Elrefaai was superb the entire 80 minutes, particularly with the boot.
He laid on three of his sides’ eight tries with deft kicks and set the scene for another with a 40-20, he kicked four conversions and a penalty goal to boot.
“We’d been building to that performance right from the start of the season, staying in the grind is something we haven’t been doing for a few weeks. We’d kick-start, but then fall out of the game so that one’s proved we can stay in it for 80 minutes,” Workies coach Graeme Osborne said.
“We really wanted to go into our home game against Blayney with a win, that was the goal and I’m glad we’ll do that now. I didn’t really expect it to be that far apart in terms of the scoreline, but for it to blow out like that, it’s great, a good way to respond after last week’s loss against CYMS.”
Granted, as good as Lithgow was Hawks were equally as poor.
The two blues’ defensive effort was a far cry from what they’d produced in their unbeaten run through the opening five rounds and, after they fell behind, they were guilty of trying too hard to chase points.
Errors came on the back of that, which Lithgow took advantage of.
“It’s not frustrating so much as it is disappointing,” Hawks captain-coach Willie Heta said, especially considering it was his side’s first home game of the year and its Indigenous round.
“We’ve already spoken about it and I’m certainly not feeling any worse than the rest of the boys because we’re all out there grinding away, but I think the Indigenous boys might be a little bit more disappointed considering the occasion, it’s such a good cause and it is disappointing to produce that performance in our Indigenous round.
“I hope it’s just a speed bump. Our defensive effort was really poor and we need to fix up those little errors but we also don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking too much about our last result, so we’ll flush that one away in a way and move on.”
Based on the first five minutes you would never had predicted Workies winning.
It’s not frustrating so much as it is disappointing.
Hawks captain-coach Willie Heta
Hawks had a chance early but Heta was bundled into touch, before fullback Jake Blimka darted over from acting half just 45 seconds later.
Hawks were pinged for an incorrect play-the-ball two tackles after the restart and even though Alderson scored his first on the back of that, Saul Houma barged over three minutes later and Heta converted to give Hawks a 12-6 lead.
But then the errors came for Hawks, and the penalties.
The two blues knocked on from the restart, Jack Gilbert scored his first in the corner two tackles later and Alderson crossed for his second in the 23rd minute, following a penalty.
The two blues had another chance but were caught short of the line, and Workies promptly went 90 metres in their next set, which finished with a beautiful Elrefaai chip and an incredible Alderson take and try.
Workies scored first after the break too, Elrefaai opening the second period with a 40-20, which Matt Swift took full advantage of to score in the 45th minute.
Alderson looked to have scored his fourth not long after but Hawks winger Jordan Baker forced the ball loose in a bone-crunching hit, which could easily have been a momentum changer had his side not dropped it in their next set.
Then, even after Darcy Allan’s sin-binning left Workies a man down, the visitors’ rout continued.
Swift crossed again and then a pinpoint Elrefaai grubber found fullback Cody Godden, blowing Workies’ lead out to 36-12 with 20 to go.
Elrefaai kicked a penalty goal eight minutes later to extend his side’s lead to 26 points, before Baker scored a consolation try for Hawks.
Lithgow made sure it had the final say though, Gilbert crossing for his second, he latched onto a dropped ball from Hawks and went 50 metres untouched.
Elrefaai did attempt to cap his performance with a final-second field goal, but referee Nick Lander blew full-time before he could.
LITHGOW WORKIES 44 (Greg Alderson 3, Matt Swift 2, Jack Gilbert 2, Cody Godden tries; Sam Elrefaai 4 goals, pen goal) def ORANGE HAWKS 16 (Jake Blimka, Saul Houma, Jordan Baker tries; Willie Heta 2 goals)
It’s not frustrating so much as it is disappointing.Hawks captain-coach Willie Heta