Bathurst Panthers are determined to learn from their mistakes when they face St Pat’s in this Sunday’s Group 10 first division grand final at Cowra.
Panthers must cast out memories of their nightmarish second-half performance against the Saints in the qualifying semi-final if they’re to win when it matters most.
The men in black looked comfortable on their way to a 16-nil lead three weeks ago, but let their rivals back into the match and eventually to an 18-16 comeback win.
A grand final is a chance for Panthers to work from a clean slate.
“Having that lead taken away really hurt them so they’re very keen to have another crack at St Pat’s,” co-coach Johnny Loughlin said.
“They’ve beaten us twice this year and we’ve beaten them once so we’d love to level it up in the game that counts.”
Panthers looked far more assured in their preliminary final win over minor premiers Orange Hawks last Sunday.
There were signs of deja vu for the Panthers when they got out to a 14-nil half-time lead but unlike their derby a fortnight earlier they held strong, recording a 22-14 victory.
“We did put pressure on ourselves against Hawks by dropping a lot of ball but one thing we’ve focused on this year is staying positive in the face of mistakes,” Loughlin said.
“We know defence will come through and we can make up for mistakes there. We stayed composed and that helped us come away with it.
“We haven’t lost anyone for this game but we’ve gained Trent Hotham and his experience will be vital out there for us.”
Backs Stu Peel and Jason Hewitt both come into the starting line-up for the grand final as does prop Pat McGarry.
Kick off is at 1pm at Cowra’s Sid Kallas Oval.
- BATHURST PANTHERS: 1 Marcus Turnbull, 2 Ben Dolan, 3 Jason Hewitt, 4 Jace Hood, 5 Stu Peel, 6 Storm Siejka, 7 Trent Hotham, 8 Tyson Chapple, 9 Johnny Loughlin, 10 Pat McGarry, 11 Adrian Averio, 12 Callum Young, 13 Jarrod Gafa; Bench: 14 Jamie Crawford, 15 Braydon Wicks, 16 Zac Burke, 17 Tom Loader, 18 Andrew Bennett, 19 Matt Hodges, 20 Jacob Barnes, 21 Matt Bohane
- BATHURST ST PAT’S: 1 James Scott, 2 Bailey Waldron, 3 Jordan Naylor, 4 Nathan Redding, 5 Bobby Forrest, 6 Chris Kirby, 7 Chris Osborne, 8 Rhys Frame, 9 Jared Colling, 10 Brodie Samuels, 11 Leigh Monaghan, 12 Aidan Kilburn, 13 Brent Dennis; Bench: 14 Alex Knight, 15 Tim Holman, 16 Jacob Parslow, 17 Mick Armstrong, 18 Matt Tilley, 19 Trent Hemsworth, 20 Mark Elliot, 21 Stan Latu, 22 Adam Morton, 23 Tom Clyburn, 24 Blake Stanley