MUDGEE has seven days to come up with a plan to beat the Dubbo Kangaroos after they were humbled 34-24 by the defending Blowes Cup champions on Saturday.
The bonus point gained by the Wombats in the loss ensured they qualified for their first finals series since rejoining the competition two years ago, but they now face the task of meeting the Roos again in a sudden-death minor semi-final at No.1 Oval
The Wombats were met by a red-hot Dubbo side, but coach Neil McDonald was pleased with their performance despite the loss.
"In patches in the first half we were a bit sloppy in defence but we picked it up in the second half and I was pleased with the way we stuck at it," he said.
"Cameron Rosamond had a blinder of a game, he's really starting to play well at the right time of year.
"We know exactly what we need to do next week now, we'll be ready to go and it starts right now.
"We've got to be a bit more dominant in the forwards, especially in the set piece and also make sure we find touch when we kick for the line.
"It's all or nothing next week."
It was a tight contest throughout but it was the Kangaroos start and finish to the game that was the difference between the sides.
The visitors raced to an early lead after some poor Wombats defence failed to contain Dubbo's Moa Kavaefiafi who stepped his way to the line to open the scoring.
The Wombats hit straight back however, after rampaging prop George Tavita showed he could get a call up in the back-line if need be.
The big number one received the ball in space down the right hand side and sold a dummy to beat one defender before throwing a lovely long ball to Daniel Niumata who strolled over for the Wombats first try.
Tavita was at it again five minutes later, burrowing under the Kangaroos defence after a great run by Dave Smith put the 'Roos on the back foot.
The physical battle up front continued before Dubbo found space down the left hand side, scoring through Luke Ryan who had a leisurely stroll to the line to lock up the scores.
Five minutes later and the Wombats were in again when Josh Cooksen spotted a gap, slid through Dubbo's defensive line and through a great long ball to Daniel Niumata who bagged his second.
The tit-for-tat scoring continued right up until half-time, with Luke Ryan scoring just before the break to make it 19-17.
A mistake from the kick-off then gave the 'Roos field position, and Dubbo fly-half helped himself to a field goal just before the break to take his sides lead to 22-17.
The second half was a much tighter affair, but the Wombats were able to claw back and take the lead after another Daniel Niumata try in the right corner, Rota Setu converting brilliantly from the sideline.
That was the last time the Wombats troubled the scorers however, the 'Roos running in two late tries as their experience began to shine through.
The defending champions starved the Wombats of possession and the home side were unable to make a late run before full-time.
Kangaroos coach Scott Vaughan was pleased with his sides performance, but wasn't giving too much away with the sides scheduled to play again in the first week of finals next week in Dubbo.
"Mudgee are a very tough side so it was a good effort from our guys to step up," he said.
"We played well, especially in the scrums and set piece.
"There's nothing like starting the finals series off on your home turf, that's what we came to do and we were able to achieve that."
o DUBBO KANGAROOS 34 (Luke Ryan 2, Moa Kavaefiafi, Anthony Golding tries; Moa Kavaefiafi 3 conv) def MUDGEE WOMBATS 24 (Daniel Niumata 3, George Tavita 1 tries; Rota Setu 2 conv).