REVELLING in a level playing field, Orange Hawks captain-coach Tim Mortimer says no Matt King will mean his two blues have a better shot at knocking off reigning Group 10 premiers and crosstown rivals CYMS in Sunday’s derby.
An NRL player 12 months ago with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, King’s cameo appearance was instrumental in the green and golds’ 42-24 defeat of Hawks in round one.
King’s efforts were a huge coup for the CYMS club.
And the 18-point round one victory helped propel CYMS to a five consecutive wins to start the 2014 season.
On the other side of town, Hawks didn’t record a victory until round seven.
Adding fuel to an always fiery occasion, Mortimer believes with King now a non-factor ahead of this weekend’s crucial local derby at Wade Park, Hawks have the perfect opportunity to get one back on a weakened CYMS outfit this Sunday.
“Obviously with how the first derby went with them bringing in Matt King, it’ll be good to see two local teams playing this weekend,” Mortimer said.
“He had a hand in a lot of their tries and he’s just a hard man to tackle.
“I’m not saying we would have won (in round one), but we’ve got a good shot now.”
Aiding Hawks is both the form they’re enjoying and the slump CYMS are in.
Following last weekend’s shock 30-27 loss to Bathurst St Pat’s, the green and golds have lost three consecutive games to slip from second on the Group 10 ladder to fourth.
At the same time, Hawks have gone from winless to fifth after three straight wins - a stretch that included an impressive 22-20 come-from-behind win over premiership contenders Bathurst St Pat’s prior to the June long weekend.
Visibly disappointed after his side let a seven-point lead slip with just three minutes left on the clock against St Pat’s last week, CYMS captain-coach Mick Sullivan said his side “just wasn’t hungry enough” last week and was under no illusions this Sunday’s derby will be another tough test for the green and golds.
“They’ll be hungry,” Sullivan fired looking at Hawks.
“If they win that then we’re nearly joint. It’s going into a bye, so it’s a four-point game for us. I won’t say it’s a must win but it’s getting to that point you don’t want to drop four in a row ... that is a rut.”
With 12 competition points, CYMS’ last loss slipped the green and golds to fourth on the Group 10 ladder, with a resurgent Cowra (12) landing in third through differential following a 36-20 victory over Blayney last weekend.
With 14 points, St Pat’s sit second and Mudgee (18) is four points clear of the pack in first position.
A win for Hawks (nine) would put the two blues within striking distance of the top four sides in the competition.
“It’d be a great step for us ladder-wise,” Mortimer said of a win.
“We’ve taken plenty of confidence out of our last couple of wins. Our discipline in our structure is better and we’re a far fitter team than we were in round one, which will help us.”