It’s being billed as the biggest derby in 10 years.
And rightly so.
The Dubbo Rhinos, so often the whipping boys in the Blowes Clothing Cup, have stepped up this year and appear well set to finally test crosstown rivals, Dubbo Kangaroos, in the Mark Melville Cup match.
Both sides have won three of the opening five games so far in 2017 with the Roos just ahead courtesy of two bonus points.
The two rivals meet on Saturday night and here’s all you need to know.
Gates open at 2pm at No. 1 Oval with the first game being the colts clash between the two Dubbo sides.
Prior to that, the Dubbo Rhinos under 17s side will be in action at Parkes.
The fixture is set to start later to ensure a bumper crowd is on hand for the main game, which will be played under lights..
- Under 17s – Dubbo Rhinos v Parkes Boars: 2:15pm
- Colts – Dubbo Kangaroos v Dubbo Rhinos: 3:30pm
- 2nd Grade - Dubbo Kangaroos v Dubbo Rhinos: 4:45pm
- 1st Grade - Dubbo Kangaroos v Dubbo Rhinos: 6pm
Full story: Quality to shine in every fixture on derby day
The Mark Melvlle Cup has a long ans storied history but in recent times it’s all been about one team – the Dubbo Kangaroos.
The Roos have held the Cup since 2006 but motivation remains high, with coach Dean Matthews stating “We don’t want to be the coaches to lose it for the first time in 10 or so years”.
The clash between the fierce rivals will also be a special one for Roos co-coach Mark Stanford, who has now coached both sides.
Not everyone is aware, but Stanford coached the Rhinos to the semi-finals in 2008.
Full story:Mark Melville Cup goes on the line
For the Dubbo Kangaroos, this match is all about a continuation in finding the right combinations and right lineup while also not underestimating the opposition.
“If you look at the table they’re on the same amount of wins as us, there’s just a couple of bonus points separating us so it’s the closest derby in 10 years,” Matthews said, building the fixture up more.
The likes of Eli Kinscher, Tim Sheridan, Jack Finch, Mark Hubbard and Shaun McHugh are all still missing for the Roos, meaning there is plenty of positional changes again this week following last week’s disappointing loss to the Bathurst Bulldogs.
For the Rhinos, this weekend is a chance to create something special for the club.
There has been improvement, but a win over the Roos would really make the rest of the competition sit up and take notice.
Rhinos coach Dave Stuart admitted that and while excited for the game, he has urged his side to continue the type of outstanding defensive effort shown in last week’s win over the Cowra Eagles while also making some “tweaks” to the attack to ensure more points on the board.
There is every chance it might be raining on Saturday night, increasing the chance of the result being a close one.
With that in mind, it might take just one player to completely break open the game and decide the fixture.
These two are the players capable of that.
DUBBO KANGAROOS: SIONE LOLOHEA
Lolohea is a man monster and quickly becoming a real fan favourite at the Dubbo Kangaroos. Getting more fit with every game, the barnstorming Lolohea will be put in the centres for the first time since joining the Roos, with Matthews revealing it was the player who asked for the switch from breakaway.
The move appears a good one and Lolohea’s size could cause chaos for the Rhinos defence.
Full story: Lolohea to run riot out wide
DUBBO RHINOS: JAVARN NOFOAGATOTOA
Dave Stuart sums it up best.
“I wouldn’t want to get hit by him, that’s for sure.”
Nofoagatotoa is another player who is quickly on his way to cult hero status. With his ability to break a tackle and also really rattle a ribcage in defence, the versatile speedster has been a massive addition to the Rhinos side.
Stuart has hinted he will play in a number of positions again on Saturday but wherever Nofoagatotoa is it is clear the Roos will have to keep a close eye on him in both defence and attack.
Full story: Size and speed poses a real threat to the Roos