By their own admissions the Dubbo Rhinos haven’t come close to playing their best football this season but they are hoping to get closer this week against Parkes.
The Rhinos sit fourth after completing a playthrough against every team in the competition, with two wins from five games.
Meanwhile the Boars have been one of the most impressive teams, losing only one game to the unbeaten Narromine.
Rhinos captain Brett Austin said the match at Apex Oval on Saturday was a chance to see how they had improved since their 43-22 loss in round one to Parkes.
“It was a pretty disappointing performance when we lost to them in the first week so this is a good challenge for us,” he said.
“We’ve improved since then but I’m sure they have too.”
The Rhinos were one of the teams expected to be contenders for the title in the inaugural year of the New Holland Cup but have struggled to put together an 80-minute performance so far.
He said the match against Mudgee last Saturday, which they lost 24-17, was an example of how the team had failed to hit its straps.
“We just played dumb footy. We have to compose ourselves and play to our strengths. We played to the forwards and got dominated.
“I think our strength is our backs but every time we tried to get the ball to them we dropped it so then we were back to being dominated in another scrum.”
Austin said the team had struggled to find a five-eighth and they were still trialling players in the position.
“I think when we find the right person, they will provide a link to the backline and that will help us,” he said.
Austin said the goal for the Rhinos was to finish in the top two, and with Narromine and Parkes starting to get a buffer at the top of the ladder, his team needed wins soon.
“It’s pretty important. If we don’t win this one, then we have to travel to Blayney and Bathurst on the back of three straight losses,” the captain said.
However he said there was no need for panic so early in the season.
“Two weeks ago Mudgee were sitting on the bottom of the ladder without a win. Now they are ahead of us on the ladder,” Austin said.
“With the competition being so close, it only takes one or two wins to get back in touch with the leaders.”
Gabe Chapman and James Bamblett are among the players who will be out for Rhinos against Parkes.
The match between the Rhinos and Parkes kicks off at 3.15pm on Saturday.