BATHURST Panthers are out this Sunday to avoid becoming the second of the city’s Group 10 premier league teams to fall victim to the Cowra Magpies this year.
Panthers are back from the bye while Magpies will enjoy another home game after seeing St Pat’s off by 8 points at Sid Kallas Oval last weekend.
A win for Panthers – sitting second on the ladder with 10 points – will do a lot to help them breathe easier in the battle towards the top of the table.
Victory will extend the gap between Panthers and Magpies out to six points and will ensure the men in black also stay clear of the Oberon Tigers.
An in-form Cowra side, searching for a third straight win, are bound to make the Panthers earn that success.
Panthers manager Danny Dwyer said the bye came at the perfect time for the team.
“We had a couple of injuries out of the game against Hawks and we ended up with only one left on the bench. Coming into the game against Blayney Jed Betts was injured but he’s back for us,” he said.
“We’ve still got Blake Lawson and Jarrod Seager out but all the rest of the side is good to go.
“This is a real danger game for us. It’s one of those games where if you looked on the table you would think it wasn’t such a bad game for us, but Cowra are a side who have been building.”
Dwyer said the Cowra lineup already looking like a class above their 2016 group.
“The addition of Cameron Picker has made a difference. He’s slotted into the team very well. Cameron Breust might have not played up to his standards last year but he is back to his best,” he said.
“Warren Williams can be very difficult to handle as well, and from all reports he played very well last week.
“They’re starting to get that feeling that they can be big contenders.”
Panthers have had to do some shuffling to their pack following the decision of prop Simon Osborne to retire from rugby league.
Coach Todd Barrow will take the starting spot.
“Simon played just the two games for us this year. The team have adjusted well for the games he hasn’t been there,” Dwyer said.
“We see guys like Jarrod Seager and Jed Betts as the club’s future in the forwards and they’ve already had quite a lot of time out there this year.
“Todd’s going to go into the front row, and he’s shown before that he’s very versatile.”
Panthers take on the Magpies at Sid Kallas Oval from 2.30pm.