Raiders and resurgent Rabbits set for exciting local derby

Bouyant: Westside co-coach Claude Gordon said there has been a positive feel around the club after their first win, and is eager for the derby against Macquarie.
Bouyant: Westside co-coach Claude Gordon said there has been a positive feel around the club after their first win, and is eager for the derby against Macquarie.

When Macquarie and Westside met in 2017, the narrowest win the Raiders had was a 30-point victory.

In a winless season for the Rabbitohs, the first meeting between the sides was a runaway 62-18 victory to Macquarie, while the return match was only slightly closer at 50-20.

However in 2018, the local derbies between the clubs are expected to be a lot closer, with a revitalised Westside a genuine threat to their rivals.

Macquarie coach Dylan Hill said his team were relishing the chance to take on Westside in front of what both teams hope will be a big crowd at No.1 Oval on Saturday.

“It’s good to see them get their first win and they will take a lot of confidence from that,” he said.

“It’s a good thing for Group 11 to have more competitive teams. Noone wants a competition where a couple of teams dominate.

“Everyone loves a local derby. Both of our clubs have a lot of history and the Saturday games have been quite popular so it should make for a good atmosphere.”

Both teams are coming off victories, and while the Raiders sit higher on the Group 11 ladder, Westside’s win on Sunday had more significance.

The 26-22 defeat of Nyngan snapped a 24-game losing streak and ended almost two years without a victory for the Rabbitohs.

It also showed the work that Rabbitohs joint captains and coaches Claude Gordon and Matt Naden have done in reforming the club is working.

Gordon said there was a very positive feel within the club.

“Training was great this week. Everyone was there and they all had a spring in their step,” the skipper said.

“Nado and I have been trying to convince the guys that they can be a force this year but when you get a win like that, against a top team like Nyngan, everyone gets it.

“Everyone is really excited and they started talking about the derby on Tuesday, but we have also been pulling them back. We don’t want them to get ahead of themselves.”

Macquarie have also displayed good form in the opening rounds of the competition, bouncing back from a first round loss to Parkes by beating Forbes and Narromine.

Hill said his team still have improvements to make, including showing more consistency, but he is still happy with their progress.

“We are struggling to play 80 minutes of good footy. We did it against Forbes and Narromine and it’s something we need to fix up,” he said.

“Our discipline also has to be a lot better. We make things hard for ourselves with ill-discipline, giving away penalties and we’ve spoken about it a lot.”

Both teams have made just one change to their winning line-ups from last week.

Saturday’s local derby at No.1 Oval starts with league tag at 12pm, with the first grade match between Westside and Macquarie to kick-off around 3.30pm.