In the 1990s, Blayney roared

LEFT TO RIGHT: Blayney's Geoff Blinkhorn, celebrating Blayney centre Henry Turua, Blayney's Richard Hobby and Bathurst Penguins second rower Robert Walford.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Blayney's Geoff Blinkhorn, celebrating Blayney centre Henry Turua, Blayney's Richard Hobby and Bathurst Penguins second rower Robert Walford.

The 1990s was a decade of change in Group 10, as Charlestons and Railway departed and the Lithgow Shamrocks disbanded.

However, Charlestons and Bathurst Leagues Rugby Leagues Club agreed on an amalgamation that led to the birth of the Bathurst Penguins.

The decade also featured the rise of the mighty Blayney Bears, who won four premierships in the 1990s and were denied in another two. The Bears' title in 1998 is the club's last premiership to date.

1990: Blayney

The roar around King George Oval was unmistakable as the Blayney Bears, at their grizzly best, celebrated their second Group 10 premiership after a crushing 29-10 win over Lithgow Workmen's Club.

Off to a slow start, Blayney then asserted their authority on the match late in the first half, scoring three quick tries which virtually put paid to a gallant Workies.

A huge crowd paid $13,361 at the gate to see a free-flowing match.

1991: Workies

After 10 grand final defeats since winning their last premiership in 1960, Lithgow Workmen's Club's long wait came to an end as they defeated Bathurst Penguins in the decider.

A sensational 12-minute scoring blitz secured an epic match at Orange's Wade Park.

The game was a replay after the original match finished in a 16-all draw.

1992: Cowra

A powerhouse display by Cowra's forward pack engineered the team's first Group 10 premiership in nine years, when they out played Bathurst Penguins 16-6 at West Cowra Oval.

Patrons paid $13,708 through the gate to watch a match slogged out in the forwards.

Tough second rower Mark Elliott and prop forward Kraig Riley never took a backward step throughout the entire 80 minutes, while they were ably assisted by the remainder of the Cowra pack.

1993: Blayney

The Bears' dream team turned Cowra's title defence into a nightmare as Blayney smashed the hopeless Magpies 54-28 in the decider.

Red-hot favourites, the Bears ran in nine tries but had to withstand a Cowra revival in the second half.

It was the Bears' second first grade premiership in the space of four years, having won in 1990.

1994: Penguins

It may have taken 100 minutes, but Bathurst Penguins finally registered their first Group 10 premiership in the top grade when they defeated Blayney 16-12 in extra-time at King George Oval.

Blayney were behind 12-0 midway through the second half, but fought back to level at 12-all with Penguins at the end of 80 minutes.

Penguins, finished the stronger of the two teams and took the lead after 12 minutes of extra-time when blockbusting winger Darren Smith ran 50 metres to score in the corner.

1995: Cowra

Cowra captain-coach Paul Martin finished his playing career on a high note, silencing his critics as the Magpies scored a 19-16 victory over minor premiers Bathurst Penguins.

A huge crowd flocked to Carrington Park for the match; the gate takings of $17,000 were the highest since the 1987 decider.

The match was well worthy of a grand final billing - the lead fluctuated throughout the entire 80 minutes, keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats right until the final siren.

1996: Blayney

A miraculous second-half comeback, in which they piled on 18 points in as many minutes, earned the Blayney Bears the Group 10 premiership.

The Bears claimed the trophy after scoring a 34-23 win over a disappointing Magpies outfit at Cowra, an 18-minute burst after half-time allowing them to forge ahead 28-19 after they were behind 19-10 at the break.

"Once we were in front, we gained momentum and they dropped a notch," Bears coach John Davis said after the game.

1997: Penguins

Bathurst Penguins defied all odds to come away with a remarkable 12-9 victory over Orange Hawks.

With the scores locked at 8-all at the final whistle, it was impossible to pick which side would come through as 1997 champions. It took a strength-sapping extra 20 minutes to separate the teams.

A beaming Penguins captain-coach Dave Scott lifted the premiership trophy following the game, much to the delight of the red, black and white faithful.

1998: Blayney

Former Balmain centre James Grant was the toast of Blayney after scoring a hat-trick of tries in the Bears' 29-18 win over Lithgow Workmen's Club at King George Oval.

Grant's man-of-the-match performance, before a crowd that paid $15,704 at the gate, snuffed out Workies' hopes of becoming the first side to win the Group 10 premiership from fifth spot.

1999: Hawks

"This one's for you!"

They were the words the Orange Hawks' faithful had waited 45 years to hear as the club was finally able to celebrate a premiership after a 30-16 grand final victory over Blayney.

Not since 1955 - when Emmco, which Hawks evolved from, won its only title - had the team won.