NORTHERN Jets coach Josh Avis admits recent history provide his team with confidence ahead of Saturday's showdown with North Wagga.
The Jets have proven to be the Saints' bogey team in the past two seasons as the two teams prepare to meet in a crucial clash at McPherson Oval on Saturday.
The Jets have won their last three meetings with North Wagga and will be looking to make that four on enemy territory this weekend.
"It's bit of a personal thing with North Wagga. I always like beating North Wagga, I used to hate losing to them, but I always look forward to it," Avis conceded.
"How we match up with them is generally a good indication of how we're travelling.
"I think we match up fairly well across the park. We're probably two very similar sides, apart from probably our key forwards, it's probably the one thing we've got a bit over them.
"It's always a good test to see how our midfield's tracking, they're a pretty mobile midfield that don't mind getting their hands dirty. They're a good gauge on where we are, North Wagga, I always look forward to it. I generally like playing them a lot more at Ardlethan or Ariah Park but we'll make the trip across and see how we go."
The Jets boast a dangerous forward line with Matt Wallis the spearhead, and Adam Flagg and Jack Harper, among others, complimenting him this season.
Avis hopes their big forwards can provide the edge.
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"I do think the key forward probably helps. Because they don't have a really big tall target, they've got a fairly mobile forward line but we've got a fairly mobile backline ourselves so that helps," he said.
"We tend to get the match ups right down back, I think that helps and we're not stretched too thin because we're trying to cover a key forward I suppose like you would against The Rock or even Barellan."
The Jets will welcome back Sam Fisher and ruckman Lachie Jones, but lose Flagg and young gun Charlie McCormack.
McCormack has been given a chance with Greater Western Sydney (GWS), while assistant coach Mal Douglas remains sidelined with plantar fasciitis.
The Jets come into the game on the back of one win from their last four games, but they showed great promise in two of those defeats, pushing top two teams Marrar and East Wagga-Kooringal all the way away from home.
"I can assure you as a coach I'm getting a bit sick of 'we're nearly there' but that's why those sides have been up the top for so long, they know how to win those tight games and grind them out, and with a young side, to be consistently getting close, it is a positive step for us, it puts us in good stead," Avis said.
"Yes they're hard, and they're heart-breaking but they're the kind of games, if we want to lose, we want to lose close and righto we can really learn from this by, taking a little bit more time with the footy or moving the footy slightly differently.
"Those little things we take from those sort of games put us in good stead for the second half of the year."
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