Mudgee skipper Jared Robinson is under no illusions as to what his out-of-finals-contention side faces in Orange Hawks this weekend, following the two blues’ consecutive losses in the last fortnight.
He’s expecting nothing short of Hawks’ very best at Glen Willow, as they look to return to form and cement the top three finish that looked all but guaranteed two weeks ago, but is now on the line in the final round.
“They’ve got a lot on the line,” Robinson said.
“Those couple of losses in a row could have cost them the minor premiership (and) they don’t want to go into the semi-finals on the back of [three straight defeats].
“They’ll be coming over here fired up and wanting to do a job on us, if they lose they can go from second to fourth so it’s a pretty massive game.”
You could see that fire in Hawks captain-coach Willie Heta’s eyes at full-time last weekend, after his side blew a 12-nil lead to lose 22-20 to Oberon.
He kept his cool as he always does in the public eye but his frustration was still obvious after watching his side fall and all but hand Cowra the minor premiership, a week off and hosting rights for the major semi-final.
It was a defeat that few tipped and leaves Hawks in a position even fewer thought they’d be in after a largely dominant season, for the most part the two blues have been perched on top of the standings.
Heta has been named to return from injury this weekend, with Jake Blimka remaining at halfback and Jackson Coote staying at fullback. Brodie Christopherson moves to the bench, while Glen Maxwell comes into the starting side at hooker.
Spectators at Glen Willow will likely be treated to an exciting positional switch that will dynamic Mudgee forward Chanse Burgess throw on the number six jersey.
While he’ll be on the team sheet as a five eighth, Robinson says that won’t change his role as much as it seems as he’ll be predominantly take on a ball-carrying role.
“He’s always had the skill to play in the halves,” he said.
Hawks’ make the trip to Mudgee on Saturday, with premier league scheduled to kick-off at 2pm.
- ORANGE HAWKS: 1 Jackson Coote, 2 Eman Rodriguez, 3 Kyle Robbins, 4 Corey Brown, 5 Jordan Baker, 6 Willie Heta, 7 Jake Blimka, 8 Ethan McKellar, 15 Glen Maxwell, 10 Saul Houma, 11 Rakai Tuheke, 12 Talon Hodge, 13 Kyle Byrnes; Bench: 9 Brodie Christopherson, 15 Sam Coyte, 16 Brett Morgan, 17 Tatafu Na’aniumotu.