IN the space of 18 months, this Orange Hawks outfit has ridden the Group 10 roller coaster like no other team in the competition.
After six rounds of the 2013 competition, the two blues were undefeated and on top of the competition ladder, a position Tim Mortimer would eventually guide his side to on their way to the club’s first Group 10 minor premiership since 1999.
After six rounds of 2014, Hawks hadn’t won a game.
And it hurts.
Sure you could blame luck - the only difference in the round one derby loss was essentially CYMS boasting former NRL star Matt King in a cameo role, while round two and three losses to Oberon and Cowra were marginal.
But putting lady luck aside, Hawks had to look within to turn the tables.
And a few key positional changes did just that.
Two wins on the trot - the latest after trailing St Pat’s 20-0 at halftime - has breathed significant life into Hawks’ 2014 campaign and with momentum, and perhaps a bit of luck, finally on the side of the two blues a place in this year’s top five is well within the grasp of this kettle of blue Hawks.
STUTTERING is the best way to describe Hawks’ attack over the opening eight rounds of 2014.
Losses against Oberon (23-22) and Cowra (21-18) were both suffered after Hawks surrendered the lead, and if continuity WASN’T a problem then Hawks would have claimed both games.
The two blues (21.7) have scored more points per game on average than the chasing pack of Oberon (19.1), Blayney (17.4), Panthers (21.2) and Lithgow (18), but tellingly if they’re to compete with the competition’s big guns, Hawks are also someway off the top four teams in terms of attack, with Mudgee (29.8), St Pat’s (29.9), CYMS (32.6) and Cowra (29.8) leading the way.
The last two weeks have shown promise, but Hawks need another gear to challenge come August.
ONE word - gutsy.
Hawks have a tiny pack this year thanks largely to the absence of last year’s guns Terawhiti Cooper (Blayney), Todd Barrow (Parkes) and Arty Shead (injury).
But that hasn’t stopped the two blues digging in, with the side’s goal-line defence very effective at times throughout the opening eight rounds.
Comparatively, Hawks rank sixth best in the competition, which isn’t too surprising given the side sits fifth on the ladder.
STAR PERFORMER: Joe Lasagavibau
THE gun Fijian has been the two blues shining light this season.
Starting the season at five-eighth, Lasagavibau was the constant attacking threat in Hawks’ structure and that presence was only heightened after a move to fullback in round six.
Capable of anything with the ball, Joe will continue to be Hawks’ go-to man in 2014.
THERE is plenty of improvement in Hawks still to come - and, simply, there needs to be.
The goal from here should be a top-five berth, and with a full- strength side Hawks have proven they’re capable of competing with the best sides.
Make the finals and anything can happen - that should be the crux of Tim Mortimer’s message over the back end of season 2014.