Bathurst Bulldogs face Orange Emus in highly-anticipated Blowes Clothing Cup clash

MISSING: Scott Johnston has been ruled out from this Saturday's clash with Orange Emus after rolling his ankle at training. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

MISSING: Scott Johnston has been ruled out from this Saturday's clash with Orange Emus after rolling his ankle at training. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

“Everyone’s expecting (Orange) Emus to win, and if both teams play their best then that’s what happens”.

Mind games or not, Bathurst Bulldogs coach Nathan Pearce played the underdog card leading into Saturday’s blockbuster round nine Blowes Clothing Cup clash against the rampant reigning premiers.

That’s not to say he’s conceded, far from it, he’s just approaching the game objectively.

“[We’re] hungry as hell to beat them,” Pearce said.

“[The] senior guys at training were talking about the fact that we haven’t beaten them since [early] 2015 and how badly they want to change that.

“We’ve definitely got the firepower to do it (but) no one has got within 40 points of Emus yet, so even if we do that we’ve managed to do better than any other team this year.”

Deflecting any pressure his side might be burdened with after a loss to Forbes last-start, Pearce talked up Emus, in particular the greens’ set-piece and its general.

“This match is almost like a free hit for us … no matter what the result is it won’t really affect us long-term,” Pearce said.

“Nick Hughes-Clapp owns the lineout. He’s the best exponent of it in the Central West. We have no one who can match it with him in the jump so our focus is putting pressure on the whole lineout (instead).”

THE BENCHMARK: Nick Hughes-Clapp, in Bathurst coach Nathan Pearce's eyes no one can match it with him come lineout time. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

THE BENCHMARK: Nick Hughes-Clapp, in Bathurst coach Nathan Pearce's eyes no one can match it with him come lineout time. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

Bulldogs were dealt a blow on Tuesday night when five-eighth Scott Johnston rolled his ankle and was ruled out. Josh Oxley fills the gap.

Former NSW Country prop Chris Plunkett returns to the Bulldogs ranks after a concussion ruled him out of the Forbes clash.

Saturday is a big day for the Bulldogs club with their Memorial Day celebrations, Bathurst’s top grade side will be wearing special jerseys for the game, which will then be auctioned off to raise money for Carenne School.

Kick-off in the top grade is at 3.15pm, at Anne Ashwood Park.

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