14th minute: The scores were locked at 5-all and an arm-wrestle had set in when the Bulldogs looked to break the game open. In the moment’s confusion following a charged-down kick Bulldogs Steve Ramsden came up with the ball. The winger immediately set sail down the left touchline, appearing destined to score in the corner.
But the determined pursuit of Orange City fullback Jackson Coote, along with the cover defence of Barton Young, brought Ramsden down metres from the tryline. Play broke down for Bulldogs, who would not trouble the scorers again for over 40 minutes.
18th minute: The Bulldogs had set up camp in City’s end when Lions captain Brad Cleal came up with a match-turning play. The fly-half snatched an intercept from thin air - preventing a likely Bulldogs try in the process - before racing downfield. Realising the chasing Bathurst defenders had his measure for speed, Cleal produced a check-side kick Adam Goodes would be proud of, steering the ball along the touchline and deep into Bulldogs territory.
A dogged chase and tackle from Young ensured the men in blue and yellow had no choice but to concede a penalty for holding the ball in the ruck. From the ensuing line-out, second-rower Josh Maley bulldozed his way to the game-breaking five-pointer.
37th minute: Moments after half time City showed the attacking intent which ultimately won them the premiership. Feeding a scrum 20 metres inside their own half and leading by 12 points, the Lions probably should have heaved the ball downfield and secured field position. Instead, they chose to attack, heading down one of the smallest blind sides in the history of rugby union
There was barely enough width on offer to fit four men, but somehow scrum-half Anthony Kent, Cleal, Coote and Baden Curran found space to draw and pass, sending the latter on a free run along the right touchline. As the cover defence closed in, Curran put boot to ball, the end result being a scrum to City on Bulldogs’ tryline.
Two rucks later, man mountain Tatafu Na’animotu’s try had all but wrapped up the premiership.
44th minute: Down 24-5, the Bulldogs fired one of their last shots in the decider. Tyler Cook was one of the Bathurst side’s best all day, especially with ball in hand. On this occasion, a well-designed swerve and fend on Coote put the fullback into the backfield and on a certain path to the left corner.
Refusing to give up the ghost, City’s John Brennan emerged from the chasing pack, catching Cook five metres from the tryline. Finishing the job, the flanker bailed the Bulldogs speedster into touch with a copybook cover-defending tackle.
Bulldogs did score again ten minutes later, but by then time was well and truly against them and the Lions had one hand on the trophy.