ORANGE Hawks captain-coach Tim Mortimer is desperate for his team to secure victory in its Group 10 premier league clash with Bathurst Panthers on Saturday.
With one eye on the local derby clash against Orange CYMS next weekend, Mortimer said a victory at Carrington Park on Saturday will act as a foundation for the rest of his team’s season.
“A win [today] is massively important for us,” Mortimer said.
“With the derby next weekend and a lot of home games in the back half of the season, winning today will set us up for a good run home.”
Despite victories in its last two outings Mortimer said Hawks have plenty to work on and highlighted shutting down Panthers’ huge pack, led by Western Division wrecking ball Brent Seager, is crucial on Saturday.
“With a small pack, we’ve been working on enthusiasm in tackles,” Mortimer said.
“Getting numbers in, out enthusing their ball runners and staying on our toes. It worked against Lithgow, and Mudgee to an extent, and Panthers have big boys like them.
“Stopping their momentum and using our defence to gain some of our own will be a big part of the game.”
“We get more confident every week, especially young (halfback) Keegan (Harding). As he works into his role, everyone else gets more comfortable in their roles around him. Our structure has improved, and hopefully continues to do so today.
“Brock McGarity also returns for us today, he’ll make a big difference to our right edge in attack and defence.”
Mortimer said the feeling from Hawks’ horror start to the season, which saw the two blues winless after six rounds, remains fresh in his players’ minds and will act as a motivator for the rest of the season.
“It was an awful feeling,” he said.
“We struggled, on and off the field, and made sure we really celebrated our last two wins.
“We want that winning feeling against Panthers.”
Hawks take on Bathurst Panthers at Carrington Park, kicking off at 4.30pm.
ORANGE HAWKS: 1 Joe Lasagavibau, 2 Steve Khatter, 3 Jared Brodrick, 4 Brock McGarity, 5 Alofi Mataele, 6 Tim Mortimer, 7 Keegan Harding, 8 Chris Anau, 9 Mitch Hurford, 10 Kurt McNamara, 11 Lawrence Fogg, 12 Kyle Byrnes, 13 Travis Bubb, 14 Pat Veikoso.