Blowes Clothing Cup Exit Survey: Forbes Platypi

As always, the Blowes Clothing Cup has thrown up countless storylines during the past four months.

Regular powerhouses have continued to dominate and some sides have struggled, while there was a fierce battle for the minor premiership and the top four.

As well as that, a host of new players came into the competition and put their names up in lights.

With finals have begun, the coming weeks will see Australian Community Media journalists from across the Central West take a look at each side as it is knocked out of the running.

We'll look at the good, the bad, the sometimes funny, and even a little bit of the ugly. All while analysing what has happened and what is to come.

We continue the series with a look the side which was knocked out in the first week of finals, the Forbes Platypi.

BLOWES CLOTHING CUP EXIT SURVEYS: Orange City | Dubbo Kangaroos

In 30 words or less, sum up the side's season?

MATT FINDLAY (Central Western Daily): Adequate comes to mind. Typically tough to shake, especially at Grinsted Oval, Forbes were solid all season without being outstanding and I think that's reflected in their fourth finish.

NICK GUTHRIE (Daily Liberal): Predictably tough. Everyone knows what they'll get from the Platypi, and that's hard, competitive encounters. Making the finals a big positive as well.

BEN RODIN (Cowra Guardian): Grit 'n' Grind rugby is a base to build from.

ALEXANDER GRANT (Western Advocate): Making finals was the floor for this squad, and a grand final appearance was their ceiling. Their season was table height. A fair year, but not one to remember.

Did this season finish better than you thought, worse, or as expected?

FINDLAY: Better, although I actually thought they might knock Cowra off on Sunday afternoon. I predicted Forbes to finish fifth as recently as a month ago, so to sneak into the finals they've exceeded my expectations despite being bounced out straight away.

GUTHRIE: Slightly better. I wouldn't have had this side making the finals at start of the season, although it doesn't come as a massive shock they made it given the experience, competitiveness, and talent within the squad.

RODIN: As someone new to the area, Forbes were a little bit of an unknown entity, but I definitely think that all things being given, the final wash-up is about where I would've forecast them to finish.

GRANT: Forbes' rough start to the season - where they lost three games to their eventual fellow finalists - signalled a rough year to come but they showed character to win some crucial games against the Cowra Eagles and Dubbo Kangaroos to score the last finals spot. Even after that start I could see the Platypi hitting back to finish third with the team they had assembled. I'd have picked them as a preliminary finalist so I'd say they've come up short

What was the side's highlight in 2019?

FINDLAY: Their magnificent charity day strips from a few weeks ago - light blue, cotton, three-quarter-sleeved jerseys... I couldn't get enough of them.

Otherwise, I'd point to how the Platypi responded to having player-coaches in Jack Hammond and Jarrod Hall. An oft-used tactic in rugby league circles, it's the first time I've seen it seriously experimented with in the Blowes Clothing Cup and after a finals appearance in their first year in charge I'd say it's worth persevering with in 2020.

LEADER: Jarrod Hall (pictured) and Jack Hammond led from the front as captain-coaches for Forbes this season.

LEADER: Jarrod Hall (pictured) and Jack Hammond led from the front as captain-coaches for Forbes this season.

From a club perspective, their first-year women's side making the finals. There's some serious talent in that group.

GUTHRIE: I was there for the final round win over the Dubbo Kangaroos and that was a great day for the club. A hard-fought win guaranteed them finals and playing in one-off charity strips in front of a bumper home crowd made the day even better. There's few places in the Central West better than a bouncing Grinstead Oval.

RODIN: Their performance in the back end of the season was huge, and as Jack Hammond noted post-game last weekend, it is the template from which to build from for the Platypi next year.

GRANT: Upsets against last year's grand finalists Orange Emus and Bathurst Bulldogs eluded the Platypi this season but they did score a timely win away from home against the Eagles. That win in July would prove pivotal in their bid for finals.

What was the disappointment, if any?

FINDLAY: It's tough to look past Sunday afternoon's loss to Cowra, even Hammond admitted his side basically didn't show up and was outclassed. There's no shame in that either, but it's a disappointing way to bow out after ending the regular season on such a high. I wish we'd seen Mahe Fangupo at his best again too, he's still battling a knee injury and despite how tough he clearly is, he was visibly restricted this season.

GUTHRIE: While making the finals was a real achievement for the club, getting knocked out by Cowra first week pretty convincingly is not what you expect from Forbes at all. There's a huge amount of finals experience in that side so for them to not turn up and at least give it a real shake was disappointing.

Also, bring back those brilliantly terrible charity jerseys from last year. Just take it in.

RODIN: Their inability to fire a shot in the semi-final at Cowra on the weekend will be impetus for improvement next year; it was an unfortunate way to end the year.

YOU BE THE JUDGE: Were Forbes' charity jerseys of 2018 the best or worst things we've seen on a footy field? Photo: NICK McGRATH

YOU BE THE JUDGE: Were Forbes' charity jerseys of 2018 the best or worst things we've seen on a footy field? Photo: NICK McGRATH

GRANT: It's got to be scoring just a single try in the minor semi-final. That's a hard blow to take after entering finals on the back of two wins. The team would have been confident of really taking the fight to Cowra but being outscored five tries to one in a 37-13 scoreline is a sad way to wind up the year. Another moment that stands out is the round eight loss to the Dubbo Kangaroos. It was the result which really signalled an uphill battle was to come for the squad over the second half of the season.

Which of the players caught your eye this season?

FINDLAY: Vili Kaufusi, initially, he was monstrous against Emus in round one. I've heard there was some issues there and he didn't finish the season for the Platypi though so I'll look elsewhere. Hally ran over me a couple of times this year and we roomed together in New Zealand on Central West's pre-season tour, so he certainly caught my eye in more ways than one. Plus, he's still a goal-kicking hooker. It was good to watch his brother Adam run around when he wasn't on Woodbridge Cup duty too.

GUTHRIE: There's few better to watch in full flight than Mahe Fangupo and while we didn't see much of it this year due to injury, seeing those flashes is always worth it. Watching Jack Hammond niggle opposition players is also a joy, he can get under opposition players' skin better than most.

Josh Coulthurst is one of the more underrated fullbacks in the competition well, with his kicking game from within his own half often proving vital for the Platypi.

STANDOUT: Mahe Fangupo is regularly one of the best players in the competition. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

STANDOUT: Mahe Fangupo is regularly one of the best players in the competition. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

RODIN: It's hard to go past Mahe Fangupo and Jack Hammond, but Angus King and Isac Stewart are both players to keep an eye on for next year; King's reliability in front of goal and Stewart's ability to get the ball over the try-line making them players who can take a game by the scruff of the neck.

GRANT: Even when injury has left him short of his full capabilities Mahe Fangupo steers this ship so well. His team rallies around his performances. Charlie French was again outstanding and showed why he's one of the most dangerous players in the Central West.

What needs to be done for 2020?

FINDLAY: They need a five-eighth. Adam Hall was good when he played 10 but he was only there sporadically, and a guy like Hammond is too good a centre to push in full-time. They've had a couple of decent first fives over the last few years, but never for more than a season or two. With a full-time, gun playmaker, you'll be reading about 2016 and 2017-era Forbes again methink. And no one say "Mahe should play 10" please, I'll go to my grave arguing he's a better halfback than first five.

GUTHRIE: Basically just keep Mahe Fangupo fit. He's capable of anything.

Staying composed at times will be important too, while it's not a massive issue there are times the Platypi get pretty fired up out there on the field and there were red cards shown in last week's minor semi. Is it because there's no coach on the sideline to calm things down? Maybe but that being said, Hammond and Hall deserve a huge amount of praise for the way they led the side this season.

RODIN: A little bit more depth in recruiting will be key, but honestly, if they start the season with the same aggression they finished it with they'll be far better placed as a start.

GRANT: Is there a way we can get Mahe a bionic knee?