ORANGE Hawks has opened its 2013 account with an impressive five tries to one win over Bathurst Panthers at Charles Sturt University’s Orange campus on Saturday night.
Competing against the men in black with a mixture of premier league and first division players, Tim Mortimer’s men outmuscled their Group 10 rivals and will now ramp up preparations for Friday night’s Bathurst Knockout.
“It’s a good way to start the year,” Mortimer said.
“There’s a really good vibe at the club at the moment. Training has been really good and we’re all coming together as a team.
“Hopefully we can keep it up for the year.”
Playing a decent Panthers side that included Country Seconds star Matt Kirkland as well as veteran Steve Lane, Hawks ran through the middle of their Bathurst rivals thanks largely to big men Arty Shead and Terawhiti Cooper.
“We’ve got a big side this year which I think will help,” Mortimer said.
Plying five-eighth on Saturday night, Mortimer will name a first grade squad set to compete in the Bathurst Knockout on Friday night, with the named unit put through its paces at training this week before taking on CYMS in the first clash at Carrington Park.
The first-year coach said he would look for better ruck shape and kick-chase from Hawks at Bathurst.
“I still want to keep it simple heading into next week,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot to work on but in general I was impressed with what I saw.
“It was only a trial though. I just wanted the simple things done well.”
The main game was played after an under 18s trial, with Hawks facing the Panthers in the juniors as well.
Hawks and Panthers ran a largely first division-based side for the trial’s first 30 minutes, a premier league squad for the second 30 minute period then a mix of both for the final third of the match, the first for both sides this season.
“It was a good chance for us to blow a few cobwebs out and get the ball in our hands,” Hawks’ captain-coach said, adding numbers were extremely healthy leading into a big 2013 campaign.
“We had a few blokes out with work but we had about 35, 40 blokes... enough for two sides anyway.”