'Good signs': Hawks building momentum towards finals charge

WELCOME BACK: Orange Hawks backrower Chris Anau has been a welcome return for the two blues as the club surges further up the Group 10 premier league ladder. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0720sgleague29

WELCOME BACK: Orange Hawks backrower Chris Anau has been a welcome return for the two blues as the club surges further up the Group 10 premier league ladder. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0720sgleague29

MOMENTUM is a wonderful thing.

And as the Group 10 finals series looms, it’s last year’s minor premiers, Orange Hawks, climbing the competition ladder thanks to a seven-game winning streak, while this year’s frontrunners, the Mudgee Dragons, are sliding back to the field in a big way.

Mudgee - a side that won its first 10 games of the 2014 season - have dropped its last three matches, losing, somewhat surprisingly, to Bathurst Panthers (34-12), Hawks (26-18) and just last week to Cowra (25-22).

While entrenched at the top of the ladder, Mudgee’s claims as this year’s team to beat are now on seriously shaky ground.

The momentum the Dragons had, is all but gone.

And while Cowra is heading the field of challengers just one win off the Dragons’ top spot, it’s the two blues down in fourth who are knocking on the door with a full-blown tilt at the 2014 crown.

Cowra is the only side Hawks haven’t beaten that’s currently sitting in the top five, and Tim Mortimer’s men have the perfect chance to claim a confidence-boasting sweep of its main finals rivals when they face the Magpies at Wade Park on Sunday, a game with huge finals ramifications.

GALLERY: ORANGE HAWKS V BLAYNEY BEARS, ROUND 14

Although unhappy with his outfit’s execution in its 29-22 victory over Blayney, Mortimer said “it’s not a bad thing to have a little slump” ahead of the finals.

He added the two blues would be extremely confident heading into the round 15 fixture with Cowra.

“We were probably lucky in the end,” Mortimer said of his side’s seven-point triumph versus Blayney.

“We’ve got our good structures but we don’t play them all of the time. That’s something we definitely need to step up.”

Hawks tackle Cowra and Lithgow in the next fortnight - both at Wade Park - before facing Bathurst clubs St Pat’s (away) and Panthers (home) to round out a tough month of the regular season. 

Aiding the club in its bid to finish in the top three, Hawks welcomed back Mortimer and Chris Anau in consecutive weeks, while halfback Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill is close to a return after recovering from a collarbone injury.

Mortimer said while a full strength side will help, it’s his team’s versatility that’s landed it in the premiership hunt after dropping their first four games of the 2014 season.

“We’re a team that can cover each other positionally, it’s a big advantage for us. If we get injuries we can cover each other,” last year’s Group 10 coach of the year said.

“It happened to us at the start of the year and we’re now learning where each other can play better, if we have any little incidents come finals time we’ll be able to cover each other. It’s a good sign.”

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