DUBBO Kangaroos' captain Shaun McHugh has been impressed by the Bathurst Bulldogs in 2015 but feels a few small changes can get his own side's premiership defence back on track.
The Roos were dealt a blow last week when they fell out of the top five after going down to Orange City and on Saturday they welcome the third-placed Bulldogs to No. 1 Oval.
The Bulldogs defeated the Dubbo side when the teams met back in April and McHugh confessed tomorrow is a crucial one for his side.
"Last time we played them we started off well but through a lack of men, which happens on Anzac Day, we let them get away a bit but we're excited and it's a big game if we want to stay in touch," McHugh said.
"We know to get in that top five we've got to keep winning and if we can do that and get into the finals then we like playing do-or-die football, we've done it before.
"But first thing is first and that's Bathurst this weekend and to be honest, I've thought they were the form team this season before a couple of hiccups the last few weeks."
The Bathurst side have been defeated comfortably by both Orange sides, City and Emus, in the past month but rebounded last week with a 41-12 win over Parkes.
Dubbo have shown plenty of improvement and glimpses of their best over the past month but the Dubbo skipper was quick to reply when asked what area his side needs to work on.
"The lineouts, we need to improve the set piece," he said.
"We're 12 weeks in and we know the game plan so it's just those few little things we need to tweak and we're focused on those areas."
The Roos have been dealt a blow with the news instrumental second-rower John Korff is unavailable while Josh Tremain is still not ready to return from a shoulder injury.
But Benn Wright does return after NSW Country duty and flyhalf Joe Finch is expected to play despite leaving the field injured during the first half last week against City.
With the lineout set to be a key part of the match the performance of hooker Ned Williams will be vital but McHugh has backed him to continue his strong form in 2015.
"Without a doubt, he's stepped up every week and made that spot his own," he said.
"He's been good and 'Blocker' (Tremain) could miss next week too but when he does come back he'll have to come through seconds and try and get his spot back from Ned."
While the battle up front will be one to enjoy the Dubbo backline continues to develop with the likes of Filisione Pauta, Moa Kavaefiafi and Hena Tuatea all getting across the tryline in recent weeks.
Tomorrow's match kicks off at 3.15pm at No. 1 Oval.