BATHURST Panthers have their hands on the Anzac Day Memorial Trophy and they want it to stay that way after Friday night’s opening Group 10 premier league derby of the season against St Pat’s.
The Carrington Park clash is the third time the Bathurst clubs have played off for the trophy, boasting one win each in the memorial game.
In its two years the ANZAC memorial match has become something more than just a derby game for both clubs, with each determined to add a special prize to their name.
Panthers will sport one-off jerseys in the derby. This year they commemorate the services of both H.M.A.S. Bathurst and Sydney.
Neither side have managed to win on their club’s home ground in the trophy game but the men in black are out to ruin that statistic.
“I think it’s a great concept that’s been embraced by both clubs. It’s something we’ve really wanted to be involved in,” Panthers manager Danny Dwyer said of the memorial game.
“The derby is always an important game and it never matters where the teams are on the ladder.”
Dwyer expects a great clash should last week’s Saints – who narrowly lost to defending premiers Mudgee Dragons – turn up.
“I’m not sure what happened to Pat’s against CYMS [in the opening round] but going off their last game they’re going to be very competitive,” he said.
“They’ve got a bit of speed in their outside backs and a forward pack who can hold their own. If they get a roll on they can be hard to bring back.
“I’d expect them to match it with us in the forwards and then try to get the ball to their edges to use that speed, so we’ll prepare for that.”
Panthers also went down at the hands of CYMS – a score of 22-16 in last round’s preliminary final rematch.
Dwyer said there’s a lot the Panthers men can learn from that loss.
“Our completion rates in the first half were terrible, to be honest. It was probably around 50 per cent,” he said.
“To still be in the contest 16-0 at half-time was a big effort, and that came down to our defence.
“As we started to get more possession we began to get ourselves back into the game, but it was that try they scored just after half-time to take them to 22-0 that really put us out of the match.”
Panthers have built up a streak against the Saints with three straight wins in the derby.
The latest of those wins was a 54-26 result in last year’s qualifying final.
Another win here could take the Panthers to the top of the ladder depending on other results.
This week sees the return of Panthers wingers Bradyn Cassidy and Kade Barrow who both suffered injuries in the team’s opening round win against the Lithgow Workies.
Blake Lawson is a possible inclusion, with Panthers closely monitoring the state of his ankle injury he picked up in the pre-season.
Friday’s match times are under 18s at 5.30pm, ladies league tag at 6.45pm, first division at 7.50pm and premier league at 9.30pm.