THE 2019 Central West AFL season is only five rounds old, but already Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels co-coach Matt Archer knows the battle for a place in this year's semi-finals will be intense.
That is why he is placing a big emphasis on making sure his Rebels - the current competition leaders - win each of their home ground fixtures, such as this Saturday's match up with Cowra.
"That's the thing about the league this year, you do't know what to expect going into each week. I think it is going to be like that every round, so you have to go into every game at your best and be prepared to perform, because if you're slightly off you're going to lose," he said.
"Every single result is going to count, it's almost going to be who can hold the home ground the best. If you drop one or two at home, you might only scrape through if you're lucky."
With the draft system the Bushrangers club uses to split its talent between the Rebels and Outlaws meaning there is naturally an adjustment period each season, Archer is happy with how things are progressing.
The Rebels have only lost once - going down by a point in Orange - and have the best attacking record in the league.
While Archer admits some of the proven performers are yet to find their best touch, others have shown big improvement.
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"There are a lot of guys who are really stepping up to go to that next level which is really, really positive. Some of our better players probably aren't quite at that level, but we know they'll work into it," Archer said.
"Simon Ross, he's been around for years, but I've never seen him play this well. He's been starting at centre half back for us each week and has been absolutely killing it. Patrick Fisher seems like a new player as well, he's really confident with everything he does."
Improvement is also a word that can be used in relation to Cowra since it returned. Though the Rebels are still favoured to win on Saturday, Archer knows the Blues will fight hard.
"We love to beat them and they love to beat us, that will never finish," he said.
Opening bounce on Saturday at George Park 2 is 2.30pm.