Despite being just the sixth round of the 2019 season, Saturday's Group 10 premier league clash against the in-form Cowra Magpies is shaping as an all-but must-win encounter for the embattled Orange CYMS, if they want to stay in touch with the top five at least.
The injury-ravaged green and golds have slumped to losses in their last two games to Bathurst Panthers (46-16) and then Lithgow (28-22), the latter being Workies' first win, and have dropped to seventh as a result, two points adrift of the top five.
A loss to Cowra would compound that and more than likely widen that gap even further considering the competition's other match-ups this weekend, which would be far from ideal considering CYMS' run of games after Saturday.
They do have a guaranteed two points from their round seven bye, which makes Saturday's clash a four-point game in a way, before facing the so-far rampant Mudgee Dragons, the high-flying Orange Hawks and the enigmatic Bathurst St Pat's, before the burden eases against the lowly Blayney Bears.
None of that's lost on player-coach Dom Maley either.
"It's a big game against Cowra, we do really need a win to make sure we're staying in touch with those top sides going into the bye," he said immediately after last weekend's loss to Lithgow.
"We've still got a few guys out injured and we're hopeful they'll begin trickling back, the bye will actually be helpful there, but it's an important game for sure (on Saturday)."
Joseph Ualesi was named to make his return from a knee injury last weekend but was a late withdrawal, he's once again been named but is expected to run from the bench on Saturday night.
Joe Duffy comes back into Maley's starting front-row this weekend while he's reshuffled his back-row too, with the earlier-than-expected return of lock Tim Mortimer.
Mortimer was knocked out against Bathurst Panthers a fortnight ago and considering he'd already had a concussion in the pre-season most expected the inspirational back-rower to be sidelined for some time, however Maley has named him for Saturday night.
His younger brother moves to the centres in place of Tyrell Charters, to accommodate that return.
While CYMS are looking to snap a two-week winless streak Cowra are hoping to extend their three-week run of massive victories to four.
After two defeats in the opening fortnight the Magpies have hit their straps in a big way over the last few weeks, hammering Workies (40-nil), Blayney (50-8) and St Pat's (44-14) to shoot into the top four, recovering from their slow start.
Following last weekend's thumping of the Saints, Magpies coach Kurt Hancock said a lot of his side discovering that scintillating form comes down to trust, an important aspect in the absence of the injured Jeremy Gordon and the retired Josh Rainbow.
"To build that trust, not only between the player and the coach... but also, the team is starting to trust each other," Hancock said.
He went on to say his side's combinations are beginning to come together, and his troops' conditioning is slowly reaching the point it needs to be at.
"Now it's starting to settle down a bit, and we're getting guys back and everybody's starting to get a bit fit and healthy," he said.
Premier league kicks off at 7.45pm on Saturday night, with league tag opening the day's fixtures from 4pm.
- ORANGE CYMS: 1 Lachie Munro, 2 Travis Adelerhof, 3 Dom Maley, 4 Robbie Mortimer, 5 Jacob Sutherland, 6 Ben McAlpine, 7 Luke Petrie, 8 Cam Jones, 9 Ryan Griffin, 10 Joe Duffy, 11 Kain Earsman, 12 Ethan Bereyne, 13 Tim Mortimer; Bench: 14 Joseph Ualesi, 15 Mitch Collins.
- COWRA MAGPIES: 1 Lee McClintock, 2 Caley Mok, 3 Bradyn Cassidy, 4 Warren Williams, 5 Zac Browne, 6 Claude Gordon Jnr, 7 Joseph Bugg, 8 Lewis Dwyer, 9 Jack Nobes, 10 Ronald Lawrence (c), 11 Ben Gunn, 12 Matt Naden, 13 Mitch Browne; Bench: 14 Logan Harris, 15 Jay McClintock, 16 Blake Tidswell
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