Lithgow Workies were thoroughly outplayed by the Orange Hawks as they went down by 20 points at Wade Park on Sunday.
While the scoreline finished 44-24, Lithgow scored a couple of consolation tries at the end of the game once the result was well and truly put to bed.
Lithgow player-coach Chris Rhodes was strong in the beaten side, as were Brendan and Jono Van Veen and Corey Willmott.
The Hawks were scintillating with ball in hand at times and besides conceding the late tries, were sound defensively, holding Workies out and showing steel on their line not seen in the earlier rounds.
Although slightly irked by the lapses in the shadows of full-time, Hawks captain-coach Willie Heta was thrilled with his side’s victory, the two blues’ third of the 2017 Group 10 premier league season.
“That is something we need to work on, which I say every week, but if we can tidy up those little areas I think we’ll keep going alright,” Heta said.
“I’m glad we took off from where we landed [against CYMS], we had a lot of positives come out of that game. Getting a good start, which I was talking about last week definitely helped in this one.”
A good start is right, Hawks shot to an 18-6 lead in just 15 minutes.
Jake Blimka grabbed an early brace while Sione Tongia crossed too, although Brendan Van Veen did score for Workies during that period as well.
Bobbie Brown linked with Sia Nomani in the 21st minute and the giant prop whizzed over, Heta’s fourth goal made it 24-6.
Workies took advantage of a Hawks error late in the half, Corey Willmott barging his way to the line. Josh Jones’ goal cut the deficit to 12. With the scoreline sitting at 24-12 at the half-time break, the game was still well in the balance.
Then Heta imposed himself.
He bumped off two would-be defenders in the 42nd minute to score and crossed again in the 48th. He did miss one conversion though, a rare sight.
Even rarer was seeing him miss a second one in succession 20 minutes later.
Lithgow butchered a couple of chances, Riley Allan dropping it over the line at one stage, and then when Heta found some space and put Tongia in for his second, the result was assured.
Two minutes later Hawks’ captain-coach broke the line again, dishing to Jedd Kennedy to push the score out to 44-12.
Ben Picman and Liam Wilson crossed in the dying stages for Lithgow, adding a bit more respectability to the score.
“Going back to the start of the year, I said we were having a bit of trouble with getting guys to training and that sort of thing. That’s changed,” Heta said.
“I think that’s really helped us leading into games, we can get everything right a bit more and it’s been quite a turnaround for us.”
The two blues’ mentor highlighted Kennedy and lock Nathan Potts as the two standouts for his side in the win, a pretty important one for Hawks considering the context of the competition.
“Jedd, our fullback, he’s doing a lot of good things. Plenty of talk coming from out the back and his carries back were quality,” Heta said.
“Pottsy, he’s just doing the same job for me every week. I was very impressed with those two.”
ORANGE HAWKS 44 (Willie Heta 2, Sione Tongia 2, Jake Blimka 2, Sia Nomani, Jedd Kennedy tries; Heta 6 goals) def LITHGOW WORKIES 24 (Brendan Van Veen, Corey Willmott, Ben Picman, Liam Wilson tries; Josh Jones 4 goals)