Blowes Clothing Cup 2017: Rhinos heading into Dubbo derby with plenty of confidence in defence

RESPONSIBILITY: Cam Hartog filled in to play scrumhalf last round and looks set to do the job again on Saturday. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
RESPONSIBILITY: Cam Hartog filled in to play scrumhalf last round and looks set to do the job again on Saturday. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Each and every Dubbo Rhinos player will run out on to No. 1 Oval on Saturday night with the same aim.

To be part of the side which wrestles back the coveted Mark Melville Cup from local rivals, Dubbo Kangaroos.

It was 2006 when the black and golds last held the silverware but this weekend’s clash appears the club’s best chance to win it back.

With three wins from five matches so far this season, the Rhinos are in the same position as the Roos, with only two bonus points separating the rivals.

“There’s a lot of history with the Mark Melville Cup and the Roos have held it for a long time,” Rhinos coach Dave Stuart said.

“Everyone wants to be part of the side that wins it back so that really adds some excitement and incentive.”

The Rhinos head into Saturday’s match with plenty of confidence.

Stuart’s men produced one of their best performances since returning to the Blowes Clothing Cup when defeating Cowra 10-5 last week, a win built on defence.

That kind of effort, combined with some “tweaks” the side has made to its attack has side heading into the derby in a positive mood.

“We’ve still got a few injuries but if we can get our attack going and keep the defence like it has been then we’ll be going alright,” Stuart said.

“Ricky Weatherall comes back for us this weekend which is a huge boost but (flyhhalf) CJ Smyth is out.

“But it (injuries) is all part of it and you’ve got to be able to maintain the side because you’re not going to have everyone available each week.”

The halves has been an area of concern this season with off-season recruit Harrison Solomon having departed the club while fellow newcomer Collin Hokianga is unavailable for the Roos clash.

Scrumhalf Cam Hartog did a solid job stepping up from second grade last week and looks likely to have the responsibility again.

But Stuart said each player, no matter if a regular or someone stepping up to fill a void, is motivated for the one fixture a season everyone in Dubbo looks for on the calendar.

“The guys are excited,” Stuart said.

“Especially after last week’s performance and everyone is really looking forward to playing the Roos this weekend.”

Stuart added he felt the Roos “started the season slowly but are now warming into it” and this weekend’s clash would give him further indication of where his side stood this season.

With rain also a chance of falling on Saturday night, the coach said the fact his side had already played in poor conditions at Orange City was an advantage.

“Hopefully it will be a close game,” he added.

Kick-off in Saturday’s derby at No. 1 Oval is 6pm.


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