''These games are what you play footy for."
That's the view of Dubbo CYMS prop Ben Marlin ahead of what shapes as a bruising encounter at Forbes on Sunday.
The clash at Spooner Oval is an early top-of-the-table battle in the Peter McDonald Premiership's Group 11 pool, with Forbes currently unbeaten while CYMS has won three on the bounce after a round one loss to Orange Hawks.
Marlin is set to be in the thick of the action on Sunday as CYMS' new-look and predominantly youthful forward pack locks horns with Forbes' highly-rated and battle-handed big men.
"It's going to have niggle and it will be a tight game so there's nothing better in Sunday footy," Marlin said of the forwards' battle.
"It's probably what will win the game. They've got some older blokes back like Jake Grace and that's good to see.
"It's going to be good in that we'll see where we stand and hopefully it's a good contest in the middle. It will be an experience for a few of these younger blokes coming through."
The Magpies have been renowned for having one of the most powerful forward packs in the west for a number of years and with the likes of Jake Grace and Brad McMillan returning to the club this season and Ben Maguire working his way back to full fitness, it's nearing full strength again.
Grace, McMillan and Maguire were all part of the Magpies sides which defeated CYMS in two Group 11 grand finals between 2016 and 2018 and a real rivalry between the two clubs has developed over the years.
Many in the CYMS team on Sunday haven't had a real taste of that rivalry as they are youngsters still in the early days of their first grade careers.
CYMS coach Shawn Townsend has always been keen to give juniors a chance and some of those players have been forced to play big minutes this season due to a number of injuries.
Experienced campaigners and previous co-captains Jarryn Powyer and Jyie Chapman are expected to be sidelined for at least another month after suffering foot and rib injuries early respectively early in the season.
That led Townsend to give Riley Wake, an SG Ball premiership winner with Penrith this year, his first start in the back-row last weekend while Cleary brothers Jaymn and Mitch, Tom Stimpson, and Zac Williams are other young guns who will be in action again on Sunday.
"They're stepping up," Marlin said of the Fishies' youngsters.
"It's been good. They're taking steps in the right direction. Dubbo CYMS prides themselves on retaining these young footballers and it's really showing.
"Shaggy (Townsend) is pretty keen on giving these young fellas a crack at first grade.
"Forbes will be a big test because they've got the older blokes in the forward pack and we haven't come across that yet."
Brad Pickering and Ali Beale are other players who have battled niggles early in the season so Townsend has been forced to shuffle the back almost week-to-week.
That, combined with the young players still coming to grips with first grade, has meant the early rounds of the season has been about coming together and starting to develop some momentum.
"We're definitely building," Marlin said.
"We haven't hit our straps yet. We're winning but not winning convincingly and it's probably a good sign because there's a lot to improve on."
Kick-off is 2.30pm, Sunday.
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