ORANGE Colts are still counting the cost of their shock loss to Lithgow on Sunday.
The defeat, Orange’s second in as many games, has meant the 2011-12 Mitchell premiers finished third on the competition ladder at the end of the minor premiership.
Orange finished level with Lithgow on 26 competition points, 14 adrift of runaway leaders Bathurst.
Under the quotient system, which measures a side’s runs and wickets throughout the season, Lithgow filled the quinella by the barest of margins.
While third is still good enough to secure a finals berth, it leaves Orange’s title defence in serious jeopardy.
They face the prospect of three straight elimination games, two of which will be played away from Wade Park.
To start, Orange will host Mudgee on February 3, a side that pushed the champions to the brink in the pool round before opener James Ryan’s century salvaged an Orange victory.
If they prevail there, they will face either Lithgow or Bathurst away from home for a berth in the decider.
Orange co-coach Steve Warrington lamented the weekend’s loss to Lithgow, but said the cause wasn’t without hope.
“It was just some bad batting that’s cost us,” Warrington said.
“It’s disappointing, and it’s obviously put us in a difficult position, but we’re still in with a chance.
“You always have to win games to win competitions, now we just have to win three in a row.”
Warrington’s co-coach Steve Ryan said after Sunday’s defeat that selectors will not be afraid to make changes heading into the semis.
Warrington endorsed that view.
“There’s guys there that simply aren’t performing, especially with the bat,” he said.
“We’ve tried to remain loyal to the guys, but it’s about application and performance.
“We’ve got a week off for the long weekend and we’ll use that time to look at all available players.
Warrington cited Kinross duo Charlie Litchfield and Tom Harbison as two players likely to come under consideration.
Skipper Hamish Finlayson missed Sunday’s game with a leg injury but is expected to play on February 3.
n Final standings: Bathurst 40, Lithgow 26, Orange 26, Mudgee 21, Blue Mountains 14