BATHURST Panthers ran in four unanswered tries to secure their second win in as many games this Group 10 premier league season as they ran out 34-14 winners over Orange CYMS at Carrington Park on Saturday.
Playing as the curtain-raiser for the Penrith Panthers and Manly Sea Eagles NRL clash, the Central West clubs played out a scrappy and bruising opening half before Bathurst outscored their Orange rivals 28-4 in the second half.
Panthers captain-coach Doug Hewitt was proud of the way his side were able to capitalise when a tiring CYMS defence started to show signs of weakness.
"That was a brutal opening 20 minutes and they were all over us. Credit goes to our boys for sticking in there. We started to see some more positive play towards the end of the first half so for us to come out the way we did in that second half off the back of that was great," he said.
"We know that we're going to finish off strongly. We're fit and tough. We're not the biggest or most skilful team but we work for each other.
"Them having all that possession early in the first half drained us and a few of us were mentally fatigued. But after the break we came out with the wind at our backs and it was going to take a good team to stop us from there."
CYMS certainly showed a lot of improvement from their Bathurst Panthers Knockout finals loss to the same side but captain Dan Mortimer said there's still much more room for improvement.
"They did to us in the second half what we did to them in the first half. We completed high, we kicked well, we chased well, we competed. Then they came out and did that to us.
"That effort and energy that we used came back to bite us. They gave us a bit of a lesson and showed us what a quality side they are.
"Things will take a while. That was our first full game as a squad and as long as we're improving - which we did today - that's what matters. It's all about making sure you're winning those games at the end of the season because they're the ones that matter."
Panthers had the first opportunity to score in the fourth minute when Blake Seager was put into space inside the CYMS half but his offload found Orange hands.
Instead it was CYMS who opened their account two minutes later as Addison Williams ran 50m out of his own half to set up Joe Duffy for the opening try later in the set.
CYMS extended the lead to 10-0 when an overlap on the left edge put Williams across the try line.
Momentum swung in the last 15 minutes of the half as discipline started to wane in the CYMS ranks.
A host of penalties and Orange errors allowed Panthers to pepper the CYMS try line repeatedly, but the visitors' defence proved up to the task every time.
The solid CYMS wall finally cracked inside the last minute when a try from short range to Elijah Sharwood brought the Panthers back within four points at the break.
Panthers brought the scores back level early in the second half through Joey Bugg before Williams' second try of the day saw CYMS regain the lead at 14-10.
Josh Board came close to extending the advantage but he was held up right on the Panthers' try line.
From that moment it all started to come apart for Orange.
In the first half Panthers had struggled to take advantage of their opportunities but it was a different story in the second half as they converted almost every time they were within sight of the CYMS try line.
The Bathurst run began with 20 minutes to go as a Jake Betts try from close range got the Panthers back ahead 16-14 after Josh Rivett's conversion.
On the next venture inside the CYMS' 20m the Panthers scored again through Jeremy Gordon.
A botched catch attempt on a Panthers bomb saw Abel Lefaoseu run away with the ball before he turned it inside for Claude Gordon to run the try in under the posts.
With four minutes remaining Panthers capped off their dominant run of 24 unanswered points when Des Doolan strolled through a gap on the left edge to become the hosts' sixth try scorer.
BATHURST PANTHERS 34 (Elijah Sharwood, Joey Bugg, Jake Betts, Jeremy Gordon, Claude Gordon, Des Doolan tries; Josh Rivett 5 conversions) defeated ORANGE CYMS 14 (Addison Williams 2, Joe Duffy tries; Williams conversion)
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