Bears awake from 14-year slumber to defeat Bathurst Panthers

BLAYNEY has recorded its first Group 10 premier league win in 14 seasons, defeating Bathurst Panthers 28-20 at King George Oval on Sunday.

Signalling the official return of the Bears 18 months after the club rejoined the Group 10 premiership in all three grades at the start of the 2013 season, Blayney captain-coach Terawhiti Cooper was an elated man following the eight-point triumph.

A victory that could very nearly have come in games against Orange Hawks and Lithgow Workies over the last two weeks, Cooper said belief got his side over the line in Blayney.

“I’ll be honest, I noticed a change in the boys after the Hawks game,” Cooper revealed, with Blayney drawing 26-all against the two blues before letting a half-time lead against Lithgow slip in a heart-breaking 28-26 loss to Workies.

“We’ve led at half-time in our last three games. We’ve played pretty patchy footy all season, and those patches are slowly starting to turn into 40 minute efforts. 

“I noticed a bit of desire in the boys out there, they were keen.”

Lock-come-centre Michael Nixon was the hero for the Bears, scoring a first-half double to rocket the home side out to what turned out to be an unassailable lead while also successfully completing a defensive hatchet job on ageless Panthers centre William Kennedy.

Adding weight to the victory in front of the Bears faithful at King George Oval, Blayney was forced to play this weekend without Kurt Beahan, Josh Rainbow and Josh Nixon while prop Dane Howarth didn’t return after half-time.

A gallant team effort in the face of adversity, Cooper praised his entire squad.

“From the starters to the bench, it was a team effort out there,” Cooper said.

“Michael Nixon out there in the centres, the explosion he gave us out wide was great. And marking Bubba, I know he’s a bit older now, but everyone knows he’s a quality player and Mick was great against him.”

The Bears travel to Oberon next Sunday for a game that now shapes up as one with huge top five implications.

Now boasting the kind of bite no Blayney Bear has had since July 2000, the seventh placed Bears will travel to Oberon to take on the fifth-placed Tigers.

“They’re always a dark horse in the competition. They’re almost equal with us. It’ll be tough, but I’m confident. It’s given us some bite.”

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