'Monkey off the back': Mortimer optimistic after Hawks' first win of 2014

BACK ON TRACK: Orange Hawks captain-coach Tim Mortimer scored a double in his side’s win over Lithgow. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0406sgleague11
BACK ON TRACK: Orange Hawks captain-coach Tim Mortimer scored a double in his side’s win over Lithgow. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0406sgleague11

ORANGE Hawks captain-coach Tim Mortimer is optimistic a dominant 14-point win over Workies in Lithgow has the potential to jump start his side’s stuttering Group 10 premier league push.

Hoping to foster that winning feeling after the two blues chalked up this year’s first victory courtesy of a 30-16 scoreline at Tony Luchetti Sportsground, Mortimer believes Saturday’s win could be the turning point in his side’s season.

“Big time. The feeling in the camp after the win was fantastic,” Mortimer said, his side leading 30-12 before a late Charlie Leaeno consolation try pegged Lithgow back six differential points.

“That was disappointing, but we had it won by then. You couldn’t wipe the smile off the boys’ faces. 

“It’s a bit of a monkey off the back. I’m hoping we can use that feeling as a big motivator for the team in the coming weeks.”

And with fixtures against Bathurst’s St Pat’s and Panthers in the next fortnight followed by a derby with CYMS, Mortimer is all too aware how crucial a victory his side’s win in Lithgow was.

“It’s a tough month of footy but hopefully now the players can see what it takes to come away with the points in tight games, that level of commitment that’s needed,” last year’s Group 10 coach of the year said.

“We’re small at the moment but we’re using that to our advantage.

“We controlled the game for 70 minutes on Saturday, we controlled the ball. We took the first step against Mudgee and then another this week. If we’d played like that earlier in the year we’d have won more games.”

Without key players Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill, Arty Shead and Brock McGarity and facing the prospect of a winless start to 2014 after seven rounds, Hawks, to great effect, kept things simple against a huge Workies side.

Running their larger opposition around, the two blues led 24-6 at half-time and then rounded out the victory 30-16, reward for an outfit that’s battled injury to begin this year.

The club has debuted four of its star under 18s team in premier league over the last three weeks, and Mortimer said if Hawks can continue to foster these juniors well the two blues will be a gun side in years to come.

On the back of Stephen Khattar, Jack Ryan and Travis Bubb’s success in premier league this season, Deryne McKenzie was another to excel in his first taste of premier league.

“He came on at dummy half with about 20 minutes to go and his defence was great for us,” Mortimer said.

“Bubb, he tackles, tackles, tackles, and Keegan Harding at halfback, we scored a few nice tries off the back of some of his kicks. There’s still improvement in us, and we’ll work on that this week, but we’ve taken the first step now, which is encouraging.”

ORANGE HAWKS 30 (Tim Mortimer 2, Alofi Mataele, Jared Brodrick, Keegan Harding tries; Harding 4 goals) def LITHGOW WORKIES 16 (Jeremy Fittler, Ben Stewart, Charlie Leaeno tries; Shannon Rhodes 2 goals).