Leading into what he knew would be a rebuilding year, Gunnedah Bulldogs coach Andy Mack elected not to put pressure on his team by saddling them with finals expectations.
Instead, he and the team have taken a "week-by-week" approach, in which he wants to see the players have fun and show improvement.
After heavy losses in their first two games - by 89 points against the Inverell Saints in round one and 140 points against the Tamworth Swans in round two - the Bulldogs scored their first win of the season last Saturday against the combined Narrabri Eagles Moree Eagles side.
"We've been playing okay without putting four quarters together," Mack said.
"But on the weekend, we did battle for four quarters, and that's probably what got us the win in the end. It was a big relief, and it's always good to get off the mark."
Mark Ewington was the star of the Bulldogs' win at the Moree Showground, with seven goals to his name.
But the experienced campaigner, who came out of a short-lived retirement to play this year, is a rarity among the Bulldogs' ranks, with more than ten players in their first ever season of Aussie Rules.
Overcoming this inexperience, Mack said, has been his focus this season, and he has even sent new players on to the field instead of old heads at times.
"We've had our success in the previous few years, and I suppose we're back to the drawing board as far as regenerating a group and trying to get experience into blokes," he said.
"Even in that Swans game, we had a full 22 and we had three or four guys that could have played, but I chose to play guys that are in their first year instead.
"It was good for them, even though we got touched up by a pretty red-hot side."
This Saturday, the Bulldogs have another tough assignment when they take on the Tamworth Kangaroos in Tamworth.
With two wins from two games (after their match against Inverell last Saturday was postponed due to rain), the Kangaroos have, like the Swans, established themselves early as one of the teams to beat.
And, as such, Mack expects a tough clash this weekend and hopes that the Bulldogs can give themselves the best chance of pulling off an upset by fielding their strongest possible team.
"Being in Tamworth, it's not too far of a road trip for us," he said.
"Sometimes it can be a bit of an issue getting numbers together, but being over in Tamworth we should get the troops together. Last weekend we only had the bare 17 make the trip to Moree.
"With the shiftwork and things going on in people's personal lives, we might get another four or five back, we'll see how we go through the week."
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