Competition leaders the Macleay Valley Rangers travel to Port Macquarie to face the “toughest side in the first round” on Saturday.
Rangers coach Dean Riordan said the 2-1 victory over Port United in the first half of the season was the hardest his players had to work.
"We were close to full strength when we played them at home the first time and they were the toughest side in the first round,” Riordan said.
“We have a few injuries but we will start with the same 11 as last week.”
The Rangers bounced back from a 1-0 defeat against the Taree Wildcats to defeat Wallis Lakes by the same scoreline.
“They are a really strong side across the park and we will need to be at our best to earn the three competition points,” Riordan said.
Rangers have a bye the following week and a win would see them earn six competition points over the next two weeks.
Sam Applegate returns to the team after missing their last clash but he will start from the bench.
The side is four competition points above second placed Port Saints but the Saints have a game in hand.
“We are nearing the business end of the season and every game is important, one slip up and it could lead to you dropping a few places on the ladder,” Riordan said.
The Rangers entered the season with a goal of earning a top three spot to earn two chances in the finals series.
With seven rounds remaining in the competition, the Rangers are in a strong position to achieve their goal.