ORANGE Hawks’ Group 10 premier league minor premiership dream was dashed on Sunday as the two blues lost a tough battle to now competition leaders Bathurst St Pat’s.
Typifying the close nature of the 2014 competition, the 30-26 loss that shattered Hawks’ nine-game winning streak not only cost the Orange side a shot at the minor premiership but also virtually eradicated its top-three chances as well.
Slumping to fourth after the loss, Hawks now sit three points behind St Pat’s and one point behind Mudgee and Cowra - the latter had the bye last weekend and was consequently gifted third place with Hawks’ defeat.
Hawks must beat Bathurst Panthers in this weekend’s final round to have any chance of sneaking back into the top three, but with Cowra scheduled to tackle the lowly Blayney Bears and Mudgee having the bye the two blues are all but resigned to playing an elimination semi-final the week after.
Two blues’ captain-coach Tim Mortimer was left to lament his side’s lack of discipline after the loss and highlighted St Pat’s line speed as crucial.
He went on to say his troops know exactly how much the defeat looks to have cost them, adding he hopes it will act as a catalyst for his side’s assault on the post season.
“Pat’s got up out of defence really quick. They make you really work hard,” Mortimer explained.
“Our discipline wasn’t too great so we ended up fatiguing ourselves ... I know the boys are a bit sad, it’s quiet there in the sheds, all we can do is turn this into a positive for us.
“By round five or six we were in the bottom two or three ... just to be in the finals is a great effort after that.
“We’ve had a good run and now it’s time to get our heads right for the finals.
“This might be a blessing in disguise.”
With Orange CYMS tackling St Pat’s this weekend Mortimer’s men will also somewhat handle their cross-town rivals’ fate.
If Hawks win on Sunday, CYMS hang onto fifth spot. If Panthers win, CYMS need a victory over the competition leaders to feature in the play-offs.