The Moree Boomerangs suffered their third loss of the season and second at the hands of the Magpies this season, going down 40-24 in Glen Innes on Sunday.
The Boomerangs were forced to make a couple of late changes, taking an under strength side on a tough trip away.
"We went up with a full squad but probably not the squad I wanted to take up," Boomerangs coach Chris Binge said.
"We were a bit short. We had to call in a few guys that had to step up at the last minute due to some players not being available due to other reasons.
"In saying that, the blokes who stepped up did a great job but it did leave us short in a couple of areas."
It was a defensive tussle early in the match, with the Magpies holding a slender 6-0 lead around 30 minutes in, but a couple of late tries to Glen Innes, including a questionable decision according to Binge, gave them a 22-6 lead at the break.
The Boomerangs came out firing to start the second half, laying on the first try before a couple of poor defensive decisions led to Magpies tries.
Still, the Boomerangs were able to claw their way back to a 10-point deficit with around 15 minutes remaining, but ultimately it wasn't enough.
"I thought at that stage we had the ascendancy, but we had a player sin binned not long after that," Binge said.
"They capitalised on those moments and obviously got the result.
"It was a patchy day for us. We went in with a new combination in the halves. They didn't click until the end.
"I don't think we had our best players available in some areas and that was showing at the end of the game.
"I'm happy with the way we went about our business."
Binge said the Magpies deserved the win on the day.
"They need to be credited for the hard work they've put in. They're definitely the outright leaders at the moment," he said.
Halfback Will Fernando and Rhys Smith were two of the Boomerangs best on the day, as well as some really good efforts from their front rowers.
"I want to make particular mention of the older blokes in Jeramy Smith, who's our 18s coach, and Craig McKenzie who made his comeback after a long time off. They put their hand up for the club on the day," Binge said.
The Boomerangs also suffered a tough loss in the ladies league tag, going up against a much improved Magpies outfit.
The Boomerangs currently sit above them on the ladder but were no match for the Glen Innes side in a 40-4 loss.
With the Boomerangs currently sitting in third place after Narwan got a big win on Saturday, the remaining four games now become even more important.
"We need the wins and if we can get the wins and some other results go our way, we can definitely climb back up to second place."
Those desired results need to start this weekend in the third and final local derby against the Boars.
The Boomerangs have enjoyed big wins in both derbies so far this season, the most recent a 44-26 win in round eight, but Binge isn't reading into those results.
"We know the Boars are going to be definitely pumped for the game this weekend," Binge said.
After some late changes being forced upon him on Sunday, he is hoping to put a full strength squad on the paddock.
"I'm not happy from the point of view of some decisions from some players on the weekend," Binge said.
"I'm happy with the guys that put their hand up and did the job on the weekend.
"We can only improve. There's no white flag. We're definitely going to be giving it everything."