Dubbo Demons coach Will Bunt has urged his players to forget about the opposition before this weekend’s Central West AFL trip to Orange.
The Orange Tigers sit eight points clear at the top of the ladder while the Demons head to Waratahs Sportsground in fifth, two wins off the all-important four spot and a place in the finals.
The Demons will again be without a handful of players and Bunt knows his side will be massive underdogs.
“They’re the benchmark and they play really well and are really well coached,” the coach said of the Tigers.
“They obviously put in at training and that shows on the park so it’s going to be a tough one.”
The Tigers lineup is an imposing one with Tim Barry and Dale Hunter, the side’s coach, dominating the forward line while a midfield featuring Michael Rothnie provides plenty of opportunities.
There isn’t any real weakness at the back either, as shown two rounds ago when the Tigers defence held the third-placed Bathurst Giants goalless.
“The first thing for us is competing, we can’t go out there thinking we’re done already,” Bunt said of his side.
“We need the right mindset and to think we are going to beat them and start well.
“We can’t afford to wait until the second quarter to kick into gear.”
That starting slowly and fading in and out of games has been an issue for the Demons this season.
The side went down by 70 to the Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels last time out but were competitive for all but the second quarter, when they had 50 points put on them.
“We can’t do it at Orange. They’re way too good to even drop off for a second,” Bunt said.
“We’ve got to defend really well and then work in transition to get the ball into the forward line and use it efficiently.”
The return of both Bevan Charlton-White and Hamish Pearce boosts the Demons chance of capitalising on any chances up front, while the likes of Marc Hyland, Malachai Dutschke and Bailey Delaney are also back in the lineup.
Also set to play is debutant Josh Darlow, who was registered within hours of the June 30 deadline.
A centre half-back from South Australia, Bunt has been impressed by his work in training since linking with the side.
Following on from this weekend, the Demons play four of their final six games at home.
“It’s really important for us to win every home game, we’ve got four left,” Bunt said.
“We’ve really got to win as many as we can to be a chance and we’re lucky we’ve got Parkes at home and the Giants at home twice.
“We’re a good chance of beating them at home and we need to jag an away game.”
Play starts at 2.30pm on Saturday.