With 10 rounds of the Blowes Clothing Cup to be played, Cowra Eagles coach Troy Hayes is still holding hope of reaching the competition’s top five.
Cowra’s suffered six losses in the opening eight rounds while registering just two wins to be placed eighth, but have been docked four competition points for forfeiting lower grade games.
A margin of 14 competition points separates Cowra and the fifth place Parkes Boars, but Hayes isn’t changing his pre-season goal of challenging the top teams and qualifying for the finals.
The side’s latest outing against CSU Bathurst on June 3 was the Eagles best showing of 2017, crossing for nine tries in a 31 point 60-29 drubbing.
Hayes wants his players to use the momentum gathered from that result to launch a mid-season revival and pile the pressure on Parkes, sixth placed Orange City Lions and seventh placed Dubbo Rhinos.
Games against the Lions and Parkes are drawn for the following fortnight so the Eagles need to keep progressing, Hayes says.
“It’s a strong competition. To be honest I think the fifth place is up for grabs if a few results go our way and we continue to play the brand of rugby we did against CSU,” Hayes said.
“We have to keep working on our game and taking steps forward, not backwards.”
This Saturday, the Eagles take on fourth placed Dubbo Roos away from home in a tough fixture following the general bye.
Injuries are still a concern for Hayes, who hasn’t been able to field the same 15 throughout the entire season so far.
But the spell has given players time to recover and Hayes has confidence.
“We’re looking okay at the moment I’m still waiting to have a chat to a few blokes at training on Thursday to finalise the side,” he said.
“They’re going to be strong. They put 100 on Mudgee so any side that does that is a top four side. I believe in what we’re capable of and I think we can open up some of their weaknesses.”
Cowra’s most notable starting 15 player who remains sidelined is Jeremy Montgomery who came from the field against Bathurst Bulldogs back in round four and hasn’t returned.
Hayes confirmed Montgomery had been training but may have aggravated the injury during Tuesday’s session.
He’s looking to Tom Dewhurst, Tim Berry, Bill Cummins and John Grant for big performances in the coming weeks.
“I think Dewy will continue his form this season. Tim Berry has gone above and beyond and I think Bill Cummins is one of the best in competition so if he can link up with John Grant I think we can go a long way in the second round.”
Kick-off is 3.15pm, Saturday at Dubbo’s No.1 Oval.