Dubbo Rhinos Matt Neill remains proud of the progress his side has made this season and insists a first win of the New Holland Agriculture Cup season is getting closer.
The Rhinos suffered a 36-17 loss to the Narromine Gorillas on Saturday but the effort, style of play, and the way his players held themselves kept Neill upbeat.
The feedback he received while speaking to some Gorillas post-game further enhanced that feeling.
"They actually said it was a privilege to play us and said how far we've come," Neill said, adding he'd been told similar things by CSU in round one.
"It's really nice feedback from the opposition forwards and that's why we play, to have fun then have a beer with the other team and that's what we've been doing this year."
It was the touch of class the Gorillas possess which made the difference on Saturday.
While there's plenty of new faces in the Narromine side this year but experience remains and it was one of the older heads, Mick Harris, who grabbed a first half double to get the hosts on top.
The Gorillas controlled much of the second half but the Rhinos pushed them for the entire 80.
"It's the best performance we've had and we're getting better every week," Neill said.
"If we'd played that game against CSU or Parkes we'd definitely have come away with the points. It's definitely close."
The win was a welcome one for the Gorillas after they lost to Mudgee last weekend following a round one bye.
Mudgee is who the Rhinos meet next weekend and Neill's early feeling was the Wombats and Gorillas are the two teams to beat this year.
The Gorillas also won second grade on Saturday while the Rhinos colts downed Forbes in the junior contest.
That performance was the other huge positive for the Dubbo club and Neill is one of many excited about the potential coming through the ranks.
"They are really good quality," the first grade skipper said.
"They're a group of boys who are good mates and get around each other and they're led well by Lachie O'Malley who is a genuine footballer and workhorse.
"Some of the others are too and I think it's a good crop coming through and a lot have said they'll be staying in town.
"We should have a great group of young footballers coming through and it's really positive."
The Ian Burns and Guy Turner coached colts side downed Forbes 17-8, making it two wins from three rounds.