Coach Will Bunt is urging his midfielders to stifle the Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels’ imposing lineup on Saturday as the Dubbo Demons chase an upset win at South Dubbo Oval.
The Demons remains fifth, behind the fourth-placed Bushrangers Outlaws on for and against percentage alone.
The Outlaws will start as favourites against the battling Parkes Panthers on Saturday while the Demons play host to second-placed Rebels.
Despite the fact the Demons have lost eight of 12 games this year, coach Will Bunt has been relatively pleased with his side’s defence.
The main issue for the coach is the sheer amount of ball the defence has had to deal with.
“I’ve tried to concentrate on us playing our own game but still doing things which negate the opposition,” Bunt said.
“You can’t fully focus on them but they have got a good midfield and they move it quickly, out wide and forward so if we don’t stop that they can kick a lot of goals in no time.
“The (Demons) back six has played really well … but it’s just been the sheer volume and quality of ball they’ve had to deal with.
“It’s more the midfield who need to start the defensive effort and stop it getting out of the middle and putting so much pressure on the defence.”
Bunt singled out captain Hamish Pearce and Joey Hedger as players who will be key to that happening.
If they do get the job done it will go a long way to helping the Demons bounce back from last week’s heavy loss at Orange.
“It’s a big weekend … we didn’t play well (at Orange) and we all know that. We know we’ve got a lot more to offer and we’ve only got one way to go, up.
“We’ve had a really good week at training, too. Especially Thursday night. That was as a good a session we’ve had in a long time.
“That’s a good thing and hopefully we can take that enthusiasm and intensity into the game.”
As is always the case, there is a handful of ins and outs for the Demons but Bunt still feels it’s a side capable of knocking off the high-flying Rebels.
Marc Hyland and Malachi Dutschke are among the players missing but Chris Day and Mitch McKechnie return to boost the depth in midfield.
“We’ve still got that core group there,” Bunt said.
“From full back to full forward it’s the same consistent group.”
Saturday is also an important day for the Demons’ women’s side.
That team is part of a top-of-the-table clash with the Bathurst Bushrangers.
The women start the day with their game at 12.45pm, before the men run out to take on the Bushrangers Rebels at 2.30pm.