GALLERY: Orange Emus v Bathurst Bulldogs

RUGBY UNION

IT'S official.

The 2015 Blowes Clothing Cup grand final will be in Orange but will be at Pride Park on Endeavour Oval?

A qualifying semi-final win over Bathurst Bulldogs on Saturday pushed Orange Emus into next week's major semi-final against cross-town rivals Orange City.

A solid start set up the 39-24 victory for Emus and not even some poor discipline in the second half could stop them from winning.

The Orange side was up 22-0 at half-time at Endeavour Oval but had three players sin-binned and a penalty try awarded against them in a dramatic second period.

Emus co-coach Graydon Staniforth, who played at fullback, said there was a stark difference between his team's two halves.

"We focused on trying to get a good start," Staniforth said.

"When we do that we generally win the game - last week (against the Lions) we didn't do it. Once the second half started there was no chat and we dropped our intensity."

Bulldogs co-coach Shane Cantrill admitted his side's defence wasn't where it needed to be.

"You miss tackles, they scores tries. It's pretty simple," Cantrill said.

"We handed them too many easy points in that first half and that breeze was always going to be probably 15 points in it. Unfortunately we, again, too many tackles for them when they came down there. That was probably the disappointing part. We'll step up from that."

Emus were up 19-0 after 22 minutes thanks to tries to Scott McLean, Nick Hughes-Clapp and Nigel Staniforth, who kicked two conversions.

Staniforth penalty goals either side of half-time had Emus leading 25-0.

Three minutes into the second half Adam Dwyer was able to fend off some would-be tacklers to score the first points for the Bulldogs, and Steven Locke added the extras.

The Bulldogs kept up the intensity as Emus started to give away penalties.

Eventually, referee Peter Egan sin-binned Emus hooker Tom Goolagong for repeated team infringements and a minute later flanker Keith Howarth was also on the sideline for the same thing.

Somehow, Emus managed to hold the Bulldogs up over the tryline once but halfback Dylan Sinclair made sure the ball was grounded in the second attempt a minute later.

With the scores at 25-12 and with two players in the bin, Emus knuckled down in defence as the Bulldogs tested them.

When the home side was back to full strength it only took them a couple of minutes before five-eighth Adam Perri stepped through a gap to score and winger Tom Green put on another five-pointer shortly after.

This pushed the score out to 39-12 but that was reduced to 39-19 when the Bulldogs were awarded a penalty try when it was deemed TJ Cunynghame took a player out of the contest who would have scored a try.

Cunynghame was also given a yellow card and was left to look on as Bulldogs winger Tyson Smith scored shortly after to bring the margin back to 39-24 with eight minutes left on the clock.

The two sides traded blows but neither could change the score as Emus booked a major semi-final spot and Bulldogs were relegated to a sudden death minor semi-final.

Graydon Staniforth said his side's three yellow cards came from putting themselves under pressure with bad options.

At the same time, he said his team was at its best when it was down to 13 men.

"There were (good) moments in the second half but we know we can't do that against City next week," he said.

Both sides came away from the match with players nursing injuries which will be monitored during the week.

Cantrill was confident his side can keep its season alive.

"If we work on our defence and get some ball in hand I'll be confident," he said of the minor semi-final.

ORANGE EMUS 39 (Scott McLean, Nigel Staniforth, Nick Hughes-Clapp, Adam Perri, Tom Green tries; Nigel Staniforth 4 conv, 2 pen goals) def BATHURST BULLDOGS 24 (Adam Dwyer, Dylan Sinclair, Tyson Smith tries; penalty try; Steven Locke 2 conv).

This story GALLERY: Orange Emus hold off Bathurst Bulldogs in tough qualifying semi-final first appeared on Central Western Daily.