FOR the second time in as many matches a blitz in the second half has helped Orange Hawks to an impressive Group 10 premier league win as they bested Bathurst Panthers 32-16 at Carrington Park on Saturday night.
In a disappointing result for the home side given the way they played in the first half, the visitors came from 10 points down at the break to pick up their third win of the season and remain in the top five.
Panthers missed out on a perfect opportunity to leapfrog them, as a masterful opening 40 minutes from five-eighth Matt Rose went to waste thanks to the second half fade-out.
“Same old story, can’t win back-to-back games,” Panthers coach John Fearnley said.
Though the final margin was 16 points, the home team had ample opportunity in the last 15 minutes to get within striking distance as Hawks led 26-16.
Penalties conceded, and dropped ball was hurting Hawks but Panthers could not find a way through
Following a sedate opening to the game, Hawks were first to score through Brock McGarity in the 15th minutes as they attacked on their left edge.
A brilliant sideline conversion gave them a 6-0 lead.
Panthers steadied and Matt Rose, in his second game back at the more familiar five-eighth role after a stint at fullback, delivered a nice kick to the left corner which was grounded by Chris Shephard just before the dead ball line.
On the half-hour mark Rose again created a chance, this time laying on a try for Jake Betts as he danced around a handful of defenders with seemingly nothing on offer before delivering a perfect pass.
Blake Lawson’s goal made it 10-6, but the best was still to come.
With five minutes to play until the break, Rose took the ball at first receiver deep in his own half on the second tackle.
Seeing space up ahead, he reefed a long kick downfield and charged after it, and managed to get boot to ball once more just as Hawks winger Steve Khattar was about to pounce on the ball.
Another toe-poke into the in-goal and was Rose able to ground the ball for his team’s third try and with Lawson adding the extras, they were beginning to open up a telling lead.
On the stroke of half-time thing started to change for the visitors though as Betts was given 10 minutes in the sin bin for fighting, and that momentum carried into the second half.
In attack early after the resumption of play, Trent Rose claimed a try for Panthers but was ruled to have knocked on, and seconds later a break from Hawks captain-coach Tim Mortimer put them on the offensive.
A short time later Joe Lasagavibau sauntered through some shoddy defence for the visitors’ second.
When prop Chris Anau barged across to level the scores and McGarity’s kick put them in front, alarm bells were ringing for Panthers.
Even when the 13-on-13 balance was restored there was no stopping the Orange side’s momentum as Jared Brodrick got his name in the scorebook, and the margin blew out to 10 with Keegan Harding crossing for their fifth.
For the last quarter of an hour Panthers peppered the opposition line but with Rose suffering from a shoulder injury their attack wasn’t as fluid and Hawks held them out.
To complete a good win, Lawrence Fogg crossed just before the final siren.
“We seem to be a very emotional team, when we let a try or two in we drop our heads, when we start to get on a role we really start to get enthusiastic and roll on from it,” Mortimer said.
“They scored two of their three tries from kicks and they had a lot of ball on our line at the back end of the game so from a defensive point of view I am very happy.
“I don’t think we played particularly well overall but I knew that if we controlled the ball we had enough points in us to win the game.”
ORANGE HAWKS 32 (Joe Lasagavibau, Brock McGarity, Keegan Harding, Lawrence Fogg, Chris Anau, Jared Brodrick tries; Brock McGarity 4 goals) def BATHURST PANTHERS 16 (Chris Shephard, Matt Rose, Jake Betts tries; Blake Lawson 2 goals).