THE Dubbo Kangaroos handed the rest of the Blowes Clothing Cup a timely reminder of their quality on Saturday when they defeated the Mudgee Wombats 34-14.
The defending premiers scored six tries to two in the victory which sees them move just one point adrift of the Wombats in fifth.
Filisone Pauta made a try-scoring return for the Roos while New Zealand World Cup touch football player Hena Tuatea also impressed in the win but once again it was the forwards who led the way.
Captain Shaun McHugh was full of praise for his team, especially for their second half effort where they scored 15 points to the Wombats' zero.
"We were a bit flat in the first half, weren't getting to the breakdown but I thought we rectified that in the second half and put a few phases together and shut them out and put a few points on ourselves," he said.
"We're not too worried what the ladder is like, if we keep playing well and winning we know we can be a dominant force in this competition again and that's what we're aiming for, get the structures right and keeping blokes fit."
Pauta showed he has lost none of his power and skill in his time away as he scored the first try at a packed No. 1 Oval with a typically barnstorming run.
The Wombats, a vastly improved outfit this season, showed glimpses of the form which has seen them defeat the likes of Orange Emus this season but co-coach Neil McDonald said his team just weren't in the game.
"It was disappointing but maybe the wake up call we needed," he said.
"We were a bit lackadaisical at the start and let them make a bit too much ground but there's things the boys can learn from and good teams learn from their mistakes."
The Roos got out to a 19-14 lead at the break with McHugh continuing his try-scoring run and in the second half the home side went up another gear.
With Simon Murphy ruled out on Friday with a groin injury and Eli Kinscher hurting his ankle in the warm up it wasn't the ideal preparation for the Roos but Joe Finch was a standout at flyhalf while Todd Stewart impressed after backing up from the lower grades.
With a win over another team battling for a top five spot in the bag, the Roos will head into the coming weeks full of confidence.
A home clash with local rivals Narromine next week is followed by crucial games against top four teams Orange City, Bathurst Bulldogs and Orange Emus.
But with Pauta back, Tuatea and Moa Kavaefiafi settled in and Josh Tremain getting closer to a return, McHugh admitted the mood was extremely positive in the Dubbo camp.
DUBBO KANGAROOS 34 (Filisone Pauta, Shaun McHugh, Moa Kavaefiafi, John Korff, Simon Hegarty, penalty try; James Mata 2 conversions) defeated MUDGEE WOMBATS 14 (Jack Lewsley, Adam Rayner tries; Brian O'Reilly 2 conversions)