THE pieces are slowly coming back together for the Bathurst Panthers as they try to rediscover their winning ways in the Peter McDonald Premiership this Saturday against the in-form Orange Hawks.
Injuries and illness have hit the Panthers at various points through the first four rounds of the competition, and they're now in the rare situation of having two straight losses to their name.
The journey doesn't get a whole lot easier for the Panthers, who face a Hawks side playing to their potential, but they'll go to Carrington Park confident of making the right adjustments.
One of those who was nearly added to the major injury ward recently was prop McCoy White.
White suffered a muscle tear in the late stages of the Panthers' round two win over the Cowra Magpies, forcing him out for a week.
Thankfully for the Panthers he returned fully fit in last week's game against the Mudgee Dragons.
"I had a medial ligament tear but it wasn't too bad. I had a week on the sideline and then played in the last game and pulled up fine, so happy days," White said.
White believes it's a case of getting back to basics for the Panthers following their 32-16 loss to the Mudgee Dragons last week.
"We're looking good but with the way we went last week we're looking to get back into gear and we need to be competitive every week, because we've got the team to do it," he said.
"I think we've just been pushing a few too many passes instead of working it up the middle and making things easier for our backs."
It's been a strong start to the new competition for Group 10 clubs, with Lithgow Workies the only team to have not won at least half of their matches.
Hawks and CYMS went into last round's Orange derby with unbeaten records and, as expected, they played out a high quality contest in a 28-22 win for the green and golds.
"It's been a pretty even comp so far. We'll just scrap those last two losses and look to start things up again from scratch," White said.
"I think this game will be a good, tough battle up the middle. From what I've heard they've got a strong pack this year. We need to knuckle down and match it with them."
Panthers remain without half Joey Bugg for several weeks but outside of that the team is close to as strong as it can be - minus their players who are out for the season.
"We got off to a good start with two wins to start the season and we just need to get back to what we were doing there," White said.
"We've probably got one of the best teams this weekend that we've put on the park so far, and we'll hopefully have Joey back in a couple of weeks as well."
Panthers will turn to the experience of Willie Wright at halfback this weekend while new recruit Hudson White will be promoted to his first Panthers start at hooker, sending player-coach Jake Betts to his preferred position at lock.
Kick-off is 12.45pm.
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