Over the past fortnight Dubbo Macquarie has gone toe-to-toe with Group 11 heavyweights Nyngan and Parkes, with only a solitary point to show for it.
A draw out at Larkin Oval and a heartbreaking 26-22 loss to the Spacemen shows the effort and hard work is there, but for the Raiders it’s getting to the point where results are needed.
And the best place to start is Sunday, when they host defending premiers Forbes at Caltex Park in a vital clash.
Macquarie currently sits in fifth spot and holds a three-point buffer over their nearest rivals Wellington and Narromine.
But with matches against both those sides coming up, co-coach and captain Zac Rennick knows two points on Sunday will be crucial.
“We’re not looking at the table too much but it’s simple because if we win most of our last five games we should make finals,” he said.
“The last couple of weeks have been good. I was really pleased with our effort out at Nyngan and we played well in patches against Parkes.
“But we’ve only taken a draw from those two games. We need to turn the effort into wins.”
The improvement in the side over the past two weeks has been noticeable, and Rennick puts that down purely to his side spending more time on the field together.
Discipline is also a big factor that has improved.
“I’ve said a few times this season that we’re a new squad and it was going to take time but I think we’re finally starting to get there,” he said.
“We’ve cut down a lot on the penalties we were giving away early in the year, but we’re still giving away too much possession.”
Forbes have had an up-and-down 2017 campaign but head into Sunday’s contest on the back of an 82-4 mauling of Dubbo Westside last Sunday.
While much is made of the Magpies ‘dynamic duo’ Zac Merritt and Jake Grace, Rennick singled out one of the southerners’ unsung heroes as the player to contain.
“I think Ben Robinson has been unbelievable for them,” he said.
“So much of what they do starts with them rolling forward, and while Zac and Jake are good at what they do I think Robinson gets them going in the right direction.
“We need to shut their middle down. If we can do that I think we can win the match.”
Macquarie’s run towards a potential finals spot features clashes against Forbes, Dubbo CYMS, Dubbo Westside, Wellington and Narromine.
But that run doesn’t feature any road trips, with all games to be played in Dubbo.
“That’s a big bonus for us but we still have to go out and get the results,” Rennick said.
“We started our season with Nyngan, Parkes, Forbes, CYMS, and we started the second round with that same tough draw.
“But to know we don’t have to leave Dubbo for the rest of the regular season means our destiny is in our own hands.”