Tech Tahs are preparing to face a determined Bowral on Saturday as the premiers look to bounce back from last week's loss to Vikings.
The clash comes in the second week of a gruelling fortnight for the Tahs, with Tim Olsen's men having suffered a 68-0 loss to Avondale last weekend.
Olsen is under no illusions of the challenge his team faces at Eridge Park on Saturday, but he's looking forward to seeing how the Tahs respond to the test.
"We were outclassed massively last week," Olsen said. "It doesn't get any easier this week, but that's the competition we play in.
"We're not hiding from the fact we got beaten and we have to respond. It's a tough competition, every game's hard each week. The two teams we've faced last week and this week are the two grand finalists.
"Hopefully we'll have a few guys back from injury this week which will help boost our ranks. It's all about defence, we've got to tackle better than last week, otherwise we're in for a long day."
For Bowral, Saturday's match marks an opportunity to return to the top two on the ladder.
Captain-coach Tim Small was disappointed with last week's result, but said he expects his team to bounce back on Saturday.
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"We need to make sure we react to what was an unfortunate loss last week," Small said. "We missed the mark on a few things, our discipline wasn't quite there and we squandered a few chances.
"We'll address that because we need a strong reaction to have a good performance and hopefully get five competition points."
This weekend marks the start of the second half of the season with, Camden and Campbelltown aside, every team having played each other once.
For Olsen, that has provided an opportunity to assess his team's performance. The Tahs currently sit ninth on the ladder with two wins and, for the most part, Olsen has been pleased with his side's steady progress.
He was, however, disappointed with last week's match and he's looking to start the second half of the season with a much-improved performance.
"I thought our season's been pretty even. Bar last week, we've been in games for large periods, but we need to improve a whole lot on last week if we're going to compete for 80 minutes with Bowral. That's the challenge, be competitive and the scoreboard will look after itself."
In Saturday's other matches, Avondale is set for a showdown with University, while Kiama will play host to Camden and Shoalhaven will head north to face Campbelltown.
Vikings and Shamrocks have the bye.
Nine Illawarra representatives have gained selection in the NSW Country Cockatoos training squad.
Vikings trio Jack Hobbs, Cody Roman and Dane Netherey were picked alongside University's Tom Baker, Takunda Chimwaza and Wayne Ngatai as well as Kiama's Leighton Cowley, Tech's Aisake Tuevu and Bowral's Henry Yuill.
The Illawarra colts have also been rewarded for their efforts, with Harvey Austin, Jack Dolan, Blake Gurney, Cooper Hanson, Soul Lauvi-Johnson, Atutahi Reti, Kyle Wasson and Opeti Taufahema gaining selection in the NSW Country Under 19 team.
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