Bathurst Bulldogs coach Nathan Pearce is nervous ahead of Saturday’s Blowes Clothing Cup clash with Cowra, thanks to the loss of Sam Roberson and Izaak Breen – two of his side’s best.
Roberson has been sidelined with a broken fibula, while Breen was left with a broken foot after, incredibly, being hit by a car while changing a flat tyre this week – he’s okay, outside the foot.
“Sam’s been absolutely bullet proof for us, when he got injured on Saturday I got the feeling that he’s going to be very hard to replace,” Pearce said.
Adam Miles will replace Roberson while No.8 Peter Fitzsimmons also returns from suspension.
“I feel like we might be playing a bit tighter this week and to be honest I’m not really sure what to expect from Cowra, but we’ve made the mistake of worrying too much about other teams before,” Pearce said.
The Bulldogs coach knows Cowra’s back line, which contains new Fijian recruits alongside the likes of John Grant and Jeremy Montgomery, will be a threat.
To limit the chances the Eagles get, Pearce wants his men to show better discipline than they did when beating Orange City last Saturday – Bulldogs being on the wrong side of a 23-9 penalty count – and lift at the breakdown.
“Our breakdown work last Saturday against City probably let us down, both in attack and defence,” Pearce said.
“In attack we were a bit slow while in defence our discipline needs to be a little bit better.”
Bulldogs head into the match sitting in second on the ladder and that is where Pearce wants to stay.
He feels Emus, who are currently 11 points clear at the top of the ladder, are a certainty for the minor premiership but the rest of the top five is far from decided.
Dubbo Kangaroos (third) and Forbes (fourth) are both three points behind Bulldogs, while the fifth-placed Parkes Boars are under pressure from Orange City and Cowra.
“If Cowra can knock us off this week I think it will make second to fifth very tight, it’s a good competition this season,” Pearce said.
Kick off on Saturday at Ashwood Park is at 3.15pm.