Hewitt waiting until 11th hour to make call on fitness for Hawks showdown

11TH HOUR: Panthers captain-coach Doug Hewitt will give himself every chance to play in Sunday's preliminary final. Photo: PHIL BLATCH
11TH HOUR: Panthers captain-coach Doug Hewitt will give himself every chance to play in Sunday's preliminary final. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

WILL Bathurst Panthers captain-coach Doug Hewitt will be taking part in this Sunday’s Group 10 premier league preliminary final?

It seems in the days leading into the upcoming game against Orange Hawks that even he’s unsure whether he’ll be ready to run onto the field.

Hewitt left the field in the opening 10 minutes of the Panthers’ minor semi-final win over Orange CYMS with a torn meniscus but the halfback has been doing everything he can to try and be there for his side.

With a grand final against Cowra Magpies on the line Hewitt is eager to take to the field Wade Park but it’s not looking promising.

“I’ll give it until the last minute,” he said.

“I’ve got advice from different people through the week. I haven’t named myself but I’ll myself all the time I can to see if I’m right to play.”

Whether or not Hewitt’s fit the Panthers still have reason to feel confident against Hawks.

Panthers spent more than an hour of last weekend’s game against CYMS minus their captain and still produced one of the strongest performances of the season to eliminate the defending premiers 21-20.

Willie Wright’s field goal inside the final minute of the game has taken Panthers to within two wins of their first title in 11 years.

Panthers and Hawks played out an amazing 30-all draw way back in the opening match of the season – the only time the clubs have met this year, due to a snowed out round.

The Bathurst men looked beaten for all money in the opening half before launching into a remarkable comeback.

Of course there’s been plenty of football that’s taken place in the almost-five months since then but Hewitt said that second half of football is still one worth drawing inspiration from.

“It’s still in the back of our minds because it’s one of the best comebacks we’ve had all season. They had us down 30-6 at one stage,” he said.

“Both teams won’t know what to really expect. I've seen them play and watched some videos but you don’t really know what you’ll get until you’re out there.”

Hewitt believes playing Hawks can sometimes be like looking into a mirror.

Both teams have their share of playmakers, both in the middle and on their edges, plus forward packs capable of turning a game on their own.

“They’re a similar team to us. Their forward are what they’ve built their game off and so have we,” Hewitt said.

“I think it will be played through the middle a lot but we need to keep moving them around.

“One thing we’ve got in our favour is that we’re a team that doesn’t usually use all our interchanges. We’ve often got a few up our sleeve.

“We should be playing an uptempo game to try and run them off their feet.”

Panthers and Hawks round out the day's play at 3pm.

Panthers have the opportunity to qualify all four teams into grand finals this weekend.

Their under 18s are already through while their league tag and first division sides also take on Hawks for a shot at a Sid Kallas Oval visit.

“We’ll all be there supporting each other. It’s a credit to both clubs to get that many teams there,” Hewitt said.

  • BATHURST PANTHERS: 1 Josh Rivett, 2 Andrew Mendes, 3 Blake Lawson, 4 Jye Barrow, 5 Kade Barrow, 6 Willie Wright, 7 Trent Hotham, 8 Brent Seager, 9 Nick Loader, 10 Dane Thorogood, 11 Blake Seager, 12 Jack Siejka, 13 Blake Hewitt; Bench: 14 Jed Betts, 15 Kara Rotorangi