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Bathurst St Pat’s have continued their charge up the 2023 Group 10 ladder after an upset 42-10 victory over the previously undefeated Mudgee Dragons in their Peter McDonald Premiership (PMP) Round Six match at Glen Willow Regional Sports Complex on Sunday.

Forwards Luke Single, Aaron Mawhinney, and captain/coach Zac Merritt set the tone early with some charging carries, which laid the platform for the Saints, who were able to score five first-half tries.

With the game all but over, Bathurst cruised to a 32-point victory in the second half, with youngster Callan Naden scoring his second brace in as many weeks, while playmakers William Wright and Noah Griffiths carved up for the visiting side.

“It was very impressive,” said Bathurst St Pat’s assistant coach, Kevin Grimshaw.

“I knew from the first set of six that we were on, and the boys just played some excellent footy.”

The Saints were hot and cold to start the 2023 season, with a 33-32 Round One win over the Nyngan Tigers, followed up by an 18-16 loss to Wellington in Round Two and a 28-20 Bathurst derby loss to the Panthers in Round Three.

Since then, the Saints have been firing on all cylinders, with Sunday’s win over the Dragons preceded by a Round Four 48-20 victory over the Lithgow Wolves and a Round Five 42-12 win over the bottom-of-the-table Orange CYMS.

“That loss against Bathurst, it opened our eyes up a bit, especially with what we need to be doing if we want to be considered a good team,” Grimshaw said.

“That’s been telling on the training paddock, and we identified four areas we needed to work on, and we’ve been working on that every week and really narrowing down on those areas.

“The signs were there in our wins over Lithgow and Orange, but it really came to fruition on Sunday at Mudgee, and everything we had done on the training paddock came out in the game.

“We probably caught them by surprise, but we went into that game against Mudgee very confident, and the camp is feeling really positive heading into this week’s game against the Hawks.”

Bathurst, who now sit in outright second position – a game behind the top-of-the-table Dragons and a game ahead of the Orange Hawks and Bathurst Panthers – can solidify their place on Sunday with a ‘huge’ home game against the ever-improving Hawks.

“For us to be a chance to be number one at the end of the season, we had to beat Mudgee because if we didn’t beat them, that would have given them a six-point buffer,” Grimshaw said.

“We wouldn’t have been able to rectify that, but now we are a game behind, and we have the Hawks this week, a match we need to win if we want to stay in the race for top spot.”

The Hawks enter the contest fresh off a dominant 40-4 Orange derby win over the CYMS on Saturday, while in the only other Group 10 Round Six fixture, Bathurst Panthers edged past the winless Lithgow Workmen’s Wolves 24-22 on Sunday.

In Round Six Group 11 games, Wellington defeated Macquarie Raiders 30-26 on Saturday, and on Sunday, Dubbo CYMS were too good for Nyngan, winning 54-6.

Round 7 draw (June 3): Lithgow Workmen’s Wolves v Orange CYMS at Tony Luchetti Sportsground; (June 4): Dubbo Macquarie Raiders v Parkes Spacemen at Apex Oval, Mudgee Dragons v Bathurst Panthers at Glen Willow Regional Sports Complex, Bathurst St Pat’s v Orange Hawks at Jack Arrow Sporting Complex, Forbes Magpies v Dubbo CYMS at Spooner Oval, Nyngan Tigers v Wellington Cowboys at Larkin Oval.

Group 10 ladder: Mudgee Dragons 10, Bathurst St Pat’s 8, Orange Hawks 6, Bathurst Panthers 6, Lithgow Workmen’s Wolves 0, Orange CYMS 0.

Group 11 ladder: Dubbo CYMS 10, Parkes Spacemen 8, Wellington Cowboys 8, Nyngan Tigers 6, Forbes Magpies 5, Dubbo Macquarie Raiders 3.

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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