WHAT’S home ground advantage worth this season in the Blowes Clothing Cup?
Well, for the four sides left in this year’s premiership race who’ll get the opportunity to host a finals match - that is, minor premiers Dubbo Roos, Orange Emus, defending premiers Orange City and fourth-placed Bathurst Bulldogs - it’s worth everything.
Minor premiers Dubbo dropped just the one game at No.1 Oval this season - against Forbes minus the club’s Country Cockatoos representatives - in the only real hiccup along the way to premiership favouritism.
Emus have been undeniable at home, winning all nine games.
After a two-year stretch of undefeated supremacy at Pride Park, City have dropped two games - to Roos and Emus - while Bathurst has also dropped two matches - against Roos and City - throughout the regular season at Ashwood Park.
In total, out of the 36 games each of the top four has played on home soil throughout the 2014 regular season, on just five occasions has the visiting team come away with the spoils.
That’s a success rate a touch over 86 per cent for the home side.
Watch our video preview of this weekend's semi-finals:
And that’s not good news for the teams travelling in late August, early September.
Especially if you’re the fifth-placed Platypi and need to win four straight away games to claim this year’s crown.
The first tough assignment is Orange City’s - Emus at Endeavour Oval.
The greens already boast the best attacking and defending stats of any team in 2014 - 690 points for and 222 against - and with that in mind, knocking off a team that this season went three straight games without conceding a try at Endeavour Oval will be a task nigh on impossible.
And that’s just this weekend.
Anyone who wins this year’s title then has to defeat Dubbo in Dubbo.
The Roos are this year’s benchmark outfit and with three country players fit and firing - one of whom (Filisione Pauta, if you hadn’t heard his name) many good judges believe is the best outside centre in country rugby - winning in Dubbo is tougher than busting out of Alcatraz and avoiding the swim.
Basically, what I’m telling you isn’t anything new.
Home teams have the upper hand come the pointy end of the season, it’s the reward for being the most consistent outfit after 18 gruelling regular season rounds.
And this year, it’s shaping up as the ultimate reward.
No side will beat Dubbo over the next month, with the Roos edging Orange Emus in a No.1 Oval classic.