Bathurst Panthers has shown why it has been the benchmark team for the last two Group 10 premier league seasons, putting in a clinical performance to shutout Orange Hawks 48-0 in the magic round clash at Mudgee on Saturday.
Panthers burst out of the gates at Glen Willow Regional Sports Stadium, up 22-0 within 18 minutes and took a 28-0 lead to the break before Doug Hewitt's men piled on more points in the second-half to claim a resounding victory.
And while Panthers claimed a massive win, Hawks ultimately struggled to build any significant pressure on the reigning Group 10 premiers, as the Orange club was plagued by penalties, errors and a lack of possession.
Panthers forward Jed Betts, who scored two tries in his team's dominant display, said the battle through the middle played a key part in his team's win.
"It was pretty tough at the start," he said.
"We just kind of weathered the storm and got over the forwards in the back end of the first half and got the win."
After a slow start against Orange CYMS in Panthers' last round match, Betts said it was important that his team came out the stronger of the two in the game against Hawks.
"We had a slow start last time, so we kind of got around everyone, to make sure we got off from the get go," he said.
"Hawks were just a bit slow. We took advantage of the wind we had on our back and kept on going with that."
After attacking the Hawks line for several sets, Panthers broke the deadlock in the sixth minute through Malik Blenman, after Dave Sellers looked to be tackled but got a ball away and it was spread wide to the right winger who scored untouched.
Josh Rivett missed the extras and it was Panthers with an early 4-0 lead.
The windy conditions weren't favouring Hawks and with the gust blowing towards them, captain Willie Heta booted it out on the full from the restart and the Panthers took full advantage on the set that followed, with Doug Hewitt crashing over under the sticks. Rivett made no mistake and it was 10-0 to Panthers inside nine minutes.
Discipline was costing the Hawks early and after the team conceded a fourth penalty within the first quarter of an hour, Jake Betts out muscled the defence a set later to score and with Rivett converting, it was 16-0.
Three minutes later, Hewitt put up a towering kick, with Jeremy Gordon jumping high to beat the Hawks defenders for the ball, collecting and scoring Panthers' fourth try within the opening 18 minutes.
Panthers continued to dominate and constant pressure on the Hawks line resulted in Rivett scoring in the 26th minute, with him converting his own try.
Panthers wouldn't add to the scoreline until after half-time, as Hawks tried to mount some pressure on the reigning champions in the final 10 minutes, however, Panthers held out to take a 28-0 lead to the sheds.
It took Panthers just 50 seconds to score in the second half, as Jed Betts went over and eight minutes later, he would score again. Rivett scored both conversions and the score was 40-0.
On the hour mark it was time for winger Desmond Doolan to score out wide, with Rivett's conversion attempt unsuccessful.
Six minutes later, the ball was spread wide once again to Doolan's wing and we would score his second in the same place he scored his first and with Rivett missing, the score was 48-0 and that's how it would stay.
Hawks captain Willie Heta was hugely disappointed with his team's performance.
"I'm disappointed and I don't even know if that's the right word, it's an understatement," he said.
"I'm very frustrated. I don't think the attitude was right, so if you don't have the right attitude, you get punished on the scoreboard like that."
It's the second consecutive week Hawks has conceded 40 points, after the Orange club suffered a 42-18 loss to local rivals CYMS last Sunday.
"We've got a couple of weeks off, so hopefully that'll benefit us because the last two weeks haven't been as good as the first two," he said.
- BATHURST PANTHERS 48 (Jed Betts 2, Desmond Doolan 2, Malik Brenman, Doug Hewitt, Jeremy Gordon, Josh Rivett, Jake Betts tries; Josh Rivett 6 goals) defeated ORANGE HAWKS 0
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