Confidence in rising in the Dubbo Macquarie ranks after an imposing 70-22 victory against the Narromine Jets at Caltex Park on Saturday.
Macquarie waited until the final round of the Group 11 season to get their biggest win and coach Steve McLellan said it was a reflection of how his team has improved.
“They [Jets] beat us in a close one in the first round and we were pretty poor that day but I was pleased with our performance this time,” the coach said.
“I think there is a growing self belief and acceptance that we are good enough and deserve to be in the finals.
“We were a very new team at the start of the year, there were a lot of changes and we’ve really had to build it up.”
The Raiders raced to a 16-0 lead early in the match before conceding their first points, but maintained their dominance to lead 36-18 at the break.
McLellan said he was disappointed his men conceded tries late in the half, and set them the challenge of keeping the Jets scoreless in the second half.
He was happy with their response. They let in just one try while scoring an additional 34 points, proving they could play out the match without taking their foot off the pedal.
I think there is a growing self belief and acceptance that we are good enough and deserve to be in the finals.Steve McLellan
Ash Widders led the way with a hat-trick of tries, while Wade Peachey and Kepu Nathan also scored a double.
McLellan was particularly impressed with the performance of Nathan.
“We’ve been waiting all season for the big prop to score his first try and when he does he goes and gets a double. He was the player’s player and got the coaches award. He had a great game,” he said.
He also praised the efforts of match officials, and said they allowed for a clean, flowing game on Saturday.
The coach said there was a strong belief within the Raiders’ ranks and said they were looking at Forbes run last year, where the Magpies finished fourth but made it all the way to grand final and won, for inspiration.
“The CYMS game was a turning point for us. We competed in most games but that was the one that showed us if played for 80 minutes, we were capable of matching it with anyone,” McLellan said.
“I think our attack was what was lacking, we were a bit all over the place but we’ve got it together now and it’s a good time to be hitting form.”
McLellan said his team were expecting Parkes to be their opponent in next week’s sudden death minor semi-final and he was expecting another big game.