ORANGE CYMS captain-coach Mick Sullivan isn’t reading too much into his side's Bathurst Knockout failure
“I don’t think we’ve won a game there since I’ve been out here,” Sullivan laughed.
“We won’t look into it much really. The only real thing is how slow we started, that was a bit of an eye-opener. If we start that slowly in the opening rounds we might struggle. Also, we were spread in defence. Normally the ruck’s our strong area but they found a few gaps there.”
Sullivan watched from the sidelines, and lauded Blayney’s performance, and predicted the Bears would surprise plenty of teams if they can replicate their knockout form when the Group 10 season kicks off next month.
“Blayney started red-hot, they were very good,” Sullivan said.
“They started fast, a few passes stuck and they scored some good tries. If they start that way in the regular season they’ll do really well.”
Orange Hawks captain-coach Tim Mortimer, who also didn’t play, echoed Sullivan’ sentiments after the two blues lost out to Bathurst St Pat’s 12-4 in the first round.
“There’s plenty of positives for us to take from it,” Mortimer said.
“We tried a few things for us in the long term, and we looked to play a game plan we’ll take into the longer games. It wasn’t ideal for the short form, and it’s unfortunate we didn’t get more of a hit out but that’s the way knockouts work.
“We’ve got one more trial this weekend (against Young Cherrypickers in Young) and it’s a full 18s, reserves and firsts trial. It will be a good hit-out.”
After trialling Matt Fuller in the number seven on Friday night, Mortimer said he has all but figured out how Hawks will replace 2013 two blues, Group 10 and Western Division halfback Scott Rosser.
“Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill wasn’t there on Friday, but I think he’ll fill that role,” he said.
“Hopefully he takes some ownership on the role and leads us around. He’s shown plenty of traits to suggest he will. I’m not sure if I’ll play five-eighth or not, we tried Toddy [Barrow] and Joe [Lasagavibau] as well. We’ll work that out in the coming weeks.”
Sullivan, unable to play until “hopefully the turn of the rounds”, has a wealth of experience set to replace himself with.
Despite seeing plenty of potential in Friday night’s halves pairing of Jed Beasley and Kyran Bubb, veteran stars Warick Colley and Ben McAlpine will combine at halfback at five-eighth respectively.
“I got a good look at some young options on Friday night, but in the halves, those two are proven,” Sullivan said.
CYMS fullback Tim Bassmann will miss round one of the Group 10 season after dislocating his thumb, while Hawks came through the competition unscathed.