THE road has been tough for St Pat’s to start their Group 10 premier league season and it doesn’t get any easier when they face cross-city rivals Bathurst Panthers on Friday night.
Pat’s will be aiming to win back the Anzac Day Memorial Trophy from Panthers at Carrington Park, looking to learn from their losses to last year’s grand finalists Orange CYMS and Mudgee Dragons.
Good patches of play but incomplete performances have left the Saints with no points thus far.
Pat’s coach Kurt Hancock wants to see his team lift their attack to the level their defence was at in the Mudgee defeat.
“We only made three errors. But in attack we have new players on our edges, plus we don’t have playmakers Benji John and Garry Reilly there to create points,” he said.
“I just felt like we never really controlled the flow of the game. It was 26 minutes into the game we finally touched the ball inside Mudgee’s 20m. When we got into a position to attack we threw our opportunities away.”
The Saints went down 16-10 in the Dragons match and there was enough in that match to convince Hancock his side – currently last on the ladder – are on the right track.
“We’re getting better and this team on paper reads really well,” he said.
“It been a tough couple of weeks to start, but that will put us in good stead for later in the season.”
Prior to last season Pat’s enjoyed a dominant run over the Panthers but that all changed in 2016.
Panthers won all three meetings between the two clubs last season, the most recent being a 54-26 qualifying final scoreline.
“Panthers are heavily favoured to win the comp this year. They’ve signed a few more players and have a strong core group of guys who have been together for a few years now,” Hancock said.
“We want to bring that old, fierce rivalry between the clubs and it looks like that’s going to be the case on Friday.
“There’s no more important game than playing against Panthers, no matter where either side is on the table. I know if we get things right then we can be right in this game.
“At this stage things are still very positive for us and it’s pointing in the right direction for the season.”
Pat’s are searching for their first win before next round’s bye.
McCoy White has earned a spot in the starting Pat’s side at lock after his strong performance off the bench against the Dragons