Panthers get road assistance
By ANYA WHITELAW
WAITING six rounds to play your first home game is not the sort of draw most Group 10 clubs would want to cop, but Bathurst Panthers have no complaints about facing such a prospect this season.
Instead Panthers president Dennis Comerford believes it will set up his club for a strong charge towards the finals.
With Panthers’ home ground Carrington Park hosting an NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and Canberra Raiders on April 30, Comerford knew the men in black would face a string of away games to start 2016.
“Basically council wanted Carrington Park at the completion of our pre-season knockout through to the completion of the NRL game to prepare the ground,” he said.
“That’s what we were in for, we were well aware of that. We actually asked if we could have a bye in there, every team has two byes this year, and it didn’t work out that way.
“But other than that, it’s what we expected.
“We accepted that, if you want to have an NRL game in your front yard, you have to make compromises.”
Panthers will start their premiership push across the four grades – premier league, first division, under 18s and league tag – on April 10 playing away to Orange Hawks.
Comerford said it may not look great on the surface, but it will really not involve his players having to cover a lot of kilometres.
“When they first notice it, everyone says ‘Why don’t you have one home game then one away game?’, which is ideal. With two clubs in Bathurst it is always good to get one game of football in town every weekend,” Comerford said.
“But it isn’t bad as far as road trips go really. We’ve got Orange, Blayney and Oberon which are short trips and we’ve got a game against Pat’s in there too, we will still have our Bathurst crowd for that.
“It would have been a lot worse if we had an away game against Cowra or Mudgee in there.”
The flip side of Panthers’ tricky start to the season is a glut of home games over the back half of the draw.
Between rounds nine and 14, they will not venture away from Carrington Park.
“If we can get two or three wins – even with two wins I’d think we’d be in the top five – in that run of games, it sets us up well for the end of the year,” Comerford said.
“I also think we are in a better position than we were this time last year player-wise. We have picked up Claude Gordon in the halves and Jeremy Gordon will go back to fullback.
“Blake Seager is back into it this year and Jarrod Seager will step up from under 18s and fill a role in the forwards somewhere.
“It’s too early to speculate on who’s got what at this stage, there’s a lot of stuff floating around, but I think we are in a good position.
“If we can win a couple of games in those first six rounds, it will really set us up nicely.”