WITH their Bathurst rivals breathing down their necks again Souths are eager to maintain their distance ahead of St Pat’s in men’s Premier League Hockey.
The two blues have a chance to do that when they meet Orange Wanderers this Saturday.
Souths’ second spot on the table goes on the line in the upcoming Bathurst gala day at Cooke Hockey Complex and they come up against a Wanderers outfit starting to find their feet in the competition.
Wanderers have accumulated six points over the past fortnight – their first impact on the table this season – and Souths coach Ray Winwood-Smith isn’t in a mood to help the Orange men add to that tally.
“Orange are finding form and playing good hockey. I watched them last week and they’re playing a good style, have found their feet and are being competitive,” he said.
“We need to get back to what we’ve been doing well because we lost our way a little bit last week.
“Wanderers are fast, they’re fit, they’re young. We need to play the style we’ve been playing and get that consistency from start to finish in our game.”
That lack of consistency from Souths was a major factor in last round’s 7-3 loss to competition leaders Lithgow Panthers.
Had Souths prevailed they would have been sitting on top of the table but they’re instead defending second place by two points ahead of the Saints.
Wanderers travel to Bathurst encouraged by a 3-all draw with Pat’s.
Winwood-Smith said points are becoming more and more vital in the run home.
“The style we’ve been playing over the last month or so is working well. It isn’t broken,” he said.
“Last week Panthers played extremely well and we didn’t. We just need to find that confidence again.
“It’s becoming quite congested on the table. It’s going to be a very interesting third round in the competition because it is so tight.
“If you drop a game now it can really hurt you. People want to finish in that top two so teams will be pushing hard to get that.”
Winwood-Smith is giving both Dan Carter and Jye Bunt as much time as possible to show their fitness as they nurse injuries heading into the Saturday game.
“We do have a few injury issues this week. Playing in the cold at Orange caused us some grief,” the Souths coach said.
“I’m giving people as much time as possible to declare their fitness but what that can do is make it tough to work out how we’re going to play on the weekend.”
Souths will go into the game leading this season’s head-to-head with Wanderers, boasting an 8-1 win in their only other meeting.
Match starts 3.20pm on Bob Roach Field.