Bathurst Panthers can consolidate their top five position this weekend when they head to Cowra to take on the Magpies in a Group 10 premier league danger game.

The Magpies are not the side they were a couple of years ago when they hosted the grand final and their season so far in 2016 has been a reflection of that.

They have won only one of their five matches, and conceded more than 40 points in three of their four defeats.

Lithgow Workies, who at the moment are locked in a battle with Orange Hawks for the wooden spoon, have provided the Magpies’ only relief courtesy of a 28-6 win two rounds ago.

Their predicament has Panthers manager Danny Dwyer scratching his head.

“Before the season I thought their team on paper looked like a top-five side. The results certainly haven’t gone that way, though,” he said.

“Based on their signings and the trial match they won against us I assumed they would be in for a good season.”

After six rounds, the competition ladder is beginning to take some shape, though Orange CYMS’ match against Lithgow – which Workies forfeited – has not yet been added into calculations.

It looks, for now, as though six teams – Oberon, Blayney, St Pat’s, Panthers, CYMS and Mudgee are trying to squeeze into five spots.

Oberon already look all but safe having won six from six.

It puts pressure on an aspirant like Panthers to make sure they get maximum points from playing the lower teams like Hawks and Lithgow, and the fringe teams like Cowra and sixth-placed Mudgee.

They’ve already done it with Workies and Hawks, and in their next two games they get the chance with the Magpies and Dragons.

“You have to win all your home games against those sort of teams and certainly a high percentage of your away matches, too,” Dwyer said.

“Cowra are dangerous. They have some good players aside from just [Western Division representative] Warren Williams. Tim Bassman and Cameron Breust are both very good at creating opportunities.

“With Warren, you kind of know what he’s going to do a long time before he does it, but stopping it is another thing altogether. From 20 metres out from the try-line he’s nearly unstoppable.

“I’m sure there will be plenty of things we have to be conscious of in defence, not just Warren.”

Panthers did what they had to do in an easy dismantling of Workies last Sunday but were guilty of pushing passes too often and chancing their hand once they had the game under control.

“We made a lot of unforced errors which was disappointing, it isn’t something that had been a problem in the previous matches,” Dwyer said.

“The defensive side of things was very strong, though. We only missed 10 tackles all game. We created enough opportunities to put 60 points on the board, but we started trying to score every play.

“The guys didn’t underrate Lithgow at all, but as the game opened up and the opportunities started to come, they almost tried a bit too hard.”

Panthers will be boosted by the return of winger Mitch Davis who was a late withdrawal against Lithgow.

Tomorrow’s match starts at 2pm at Sid Kallas Oval.

BATHURST PANTHERS: 1 Jeremy Gordon, 2 Bradyn Cassidy, 3 Blake Lawson, 4 Jye Barrow, 5 Mitch Davis, 6 Trent Hotham, 7 Claude Gordon, 8 Brent Seager, 9 Nick Loader, 10 Jed Betts, 11 Leigh Monaghan, 12 Todd Barrow, 13 Jake Betts, 14 Ben Gunn, 15 Kyle Byrnes, 16 Jason Hewitt, 17 Jay McClintock

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