Underdogs for the Blowes Clothing Cup third grade grand final – Bulldogs’ status for this Saturday’s decider against Orange City is by no means an unfamiliar one.
For the past two seasons when the Bulldogs reached grand final day, they were expected to finish as runners-up.
In 2015 they defied that expectation as a late goal gave them a two-point win over the Kangaroos, while last year the Dubbo side lived up to its favouritism thanks to a last-gasp try.
This Saturday Bulldogs face a different opponent in Orange City, but Bathurst coach Ash Goninan knows the Lions will be very hard to beat.
Though his Bulldogs beat City 29-7 in their first meeting of 2017, the Lions won the rematch 48-7 then downed Bathurst 31-8 in the major semi-final.
“I think we’ve just got to go in there with a positive mindset, we definitely know that we’re the underdogs of the game, so I guess it’s up to City to lose,” Goninan said.
“We’ve got nothing to lose, we’re going out there with that attitude. They’ve beaten us pretty well the last couple of times, so we’ve just got to go out there and try our best and that's all I can really ask for. Hopefully our best can match theirs.
“This is our third grand final in a row … this year I’d say we are up against a better side in Orange City, their forward pack is quite strong, they’ve got a few very good ex-first graders there, and they’ve also got a very experienced back line.”
Though City has plenty of talent within its ranks, so too does Bulldogs. The bench includes Riley Hanrahan and Adam Plummer, both of whom have played first grade this season.
There are also a host of players who are keen to make amends for last year’s narrow grand final defeat.
“I think the guys have what happened from last year in the back of their minds and that is making them a bit more passionate about winning this year,” Goninan said.
“At the start of the year our goal was to make it to the grand final and we’ve done that, but obviously we’re keen to go even further and win it now.”
Saturday’s grand final at Orange’s Endeavour Oval will kick off at noon.
- BATHURST BULLDOGS: 1 Jake Mitchell, 2 Aaron Booby, 3 Tim Booby, 4 Dale Norris, 5 Andrew Smith, 6 Henry Francis, 7 Mick Anderson, 8 Dane Fitzpatrick, 9 Sam Macpherson, 10 Brent Dennis, 11 Aaron Baker, 12 Sam Markwick, 13 Steve Locke, 14 Toby Farraway, 15 Nathan Pearce; Bench: 16 Shannon Felsch, 17 Matt Smith, 18 Brendan Robinson, 19 Jack Spora, 20 Stephen Beath, 21 Hamish Davies, 22 Harry Peacock, 23 Riley Hanrahan, 24 Adam Plummer
- ORANGE CITY LIONS: 1 James Sheridan, 2 Josh Tremain, 3 Shane Taber, 4 Josh Maley, 5 Keenan Brand, 6 Anthony Rich, 7 Wayne Miller, 8 Zarin Barber, 9 Anthony Kent, 10 Brad Cleal, 11 Nathan Zinga, 12 Sione Tongia, 13 Kurt McNamara ©, 14 Joe Barrett, 15 Baden Curran; Bench: 16 Simon Livingstone, 17 Scott Barrett, 18 Rowan Cleal, 19 Mitch Pearce, 20 Nathan Short, 21 Feleti Wolfgramm, 22 Nicko Foliaki