COLUMN | The five must-see Blowes Clothing Cup games in 2022 | Central Western Daily

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The Blowes Clothing Cup finished in underwhelming fashion in 2021 after COVID caused the cancellation of the season on the eve of its finals series. Cowra Eagles were ultimately crowned champions as they finished the season on top of the ladder after defeating Orange Emus 23-12 in the final round. But enough with the sad, because we’ve got a fresh season in front of us and some big matchups to get us keen. Once again, six teams will contest the competition in what will be a 15-round season. But which games will prove to have the biggest impacts and which will fall by the wayside? These are the five matches we think are the ones worth hitting the road to watch. How could this not grab our attention? Well, if we were to be cynical we could say that in the two of their three matches last season, Emus ran out a combined 97-15 winners. That’s what I call a bloodbath. But there was one game squeezed in-between those two matches which did provide a glimmer of hope. It was a 24-15 Emus win on June 19 where both teams were at their best that proved this derby is still one to watch out for. By round four, we’ll have a pretty good sense of who will be contenders and who will be pretenders. It’s easy to say that Emus take out this particular contest, especially with them hosting the match, but not every win and not every loss is created equal. Should City play this one close, or even pull off an upset, it will show to the rest of the competition that they are one to watch out for. Back-to-back weeks where Emus feature in the match of the round…but how could you blame us? As we pointed out earlier, the Eagles were crowned champions last season and there is no doubt the men in green will be out for revenge. These two teams met for the first time in round five last season, with Emus playing hosts then as well. It was the home side who came out on top in that fixture, conceding only a rare field goal on their way to a low-scoring, 15-3 win. Should the visitors be able to sneak out a victory in Orange, they will well and truly stamp their authority as this year’s team to beat. As for Emus? Well, they could conceivably go the first third of the competition undefeated thanks to a favourable home and away schedule, but also the fact they will once again be thinking that anything less than a title will be a disappointing season. Regardless of who wins this one, both these sides will be hot favourites to finish one-two come season end. The half-way point of the season will also act as the round before all teams get a much-needed general bye. No team will need to more than the Bulldogs, after having to play the longest away trip in the league. A two-and-a-half hour drive would feel much better after a win and depending how the season plays out prior to this, it could be a much-needed victory at that. We’ve made it pretty clear that we think Emus and Cowra will be one and two in some order come the end of the season, and that leaves the rest of the league jockeying for finals places. The Bulldogs would have been disappointed with how they finished up last year, but I’m backing them to come out of the gates hot in 2022. Four home games in the first six rounds should set them up for success. That is why this road trip to face the Kangaroos is so important. No team wants to be labelled a home-track bully, and while the advantage of the playing in your own backyard in the Blowes Clothing Cup may be stronger than either of the Peter McDonald Premiership, or the Western Premier League, that won’t be enough to win a premiership. As for Dubbo, a loss at home could see them going into the bye with a lot to ponder. You could tell me an endless number of ways this game could play out and I’d believe every single one of them. I’m predicting both of these teams to be fighting for a finals spot right to the last day of the season, which makes this match so enticing. Should these sides be as close in the standing as I think they will be, then round 13 could very well prove to be unlucky for someone. The Lions will have the luxury of hosting this game and there should be a raucous crowd up at Pride Park. Meanwhile, Forbes are the uninspiring team that always seems to surprise me. I’ll be tipping City to get up in this one, but with two games each still left to play afterwards, I’m predicting a lot of sore bodies as a result of this clash. I am far from physic, so who knows what the season will look like by the time we get to this point, but if there’s one thing I can guarantee, it would be that this match will have big implications as teams prepare for finals footy. I wouldn’t put it past the ‘Roos to grab a top three or even top two spot in the standings, but an away trip to Cowra is a big ask for anyone. The Eagles may well be in a position to win back-to-back minor premierships and will have this game pencilled in as one they must – and not should – win. Do I think Cowra gets the wood over Dubbo? Yes, I do. But come the end of any season, when injuries have struck and bodies are battered, anything can happen. The season begins on April 23, when Dubbo hosts Orange City, Emus host Bathurst and Cowra hosts Forbes. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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