The weight of expectation builds on the Bathurst Bulldogs second grade side in the lead up to this Saturday’s Blowes Clothing Cup grand final against Orange Emus but the Dogs will be confident they can shoulder the load.
‘Dominant’ may not be enough to describe the Bulldogs’ run towards the grand final at Endeavour Oval.
They did away with the Dubbo Kangaroos in the major semi-final 31-10 – beating the only team who have bested them in 2018 – and extended their winning streak to 12 games in the process.
Such a streak means little to Bulldogs co-coach Richard Smith.
“I’ve been there and done that with an undefeated team who still lost,” he said.
“We’ve got to work hard for us to get there.”
Smith is expecting a great atmosphere due to Bulldogs-Emus clashes making up all three senior men’s grand finals.
“It evens the playing field because no-one’s got fresh reserves,” he said.
“There’s two pretty proud clubs in the grand final and at the end of the day I’d say the form sides of the year across all grades.
“It’s really exciting and we’re all looking forward to it.”
Bulldogs have had Emus’ measure in all three games they’ve played this season.
The closest of those wins, ominously, was the last of them – a 19-13 success last month at Endeavour.
Bulldogs had to overcome a 10-6 deficit at half-time and were staring down the barrel of their first loss in almost three months.
Smith said there’s been abundant enthusiasm throughout the team’s ranks this season.
Everyone who plays Emus lifts because they know it’s not going to be an easy day.Richard Smith
“Everyone who plays Emus lifts because they know it’s not going to be an easy day,” he said.
“There’s guys who have been here before but there’s guys who haven’t. We’ve got a couple of guys from colts last year and, while they won, it’s a different league here.
“We have have Scott Johnston, Adam Dwyer and Liam Berry our captain who talks really well out there. We’ve got a great leadership group between those three.
“We’ve been blessed with the amount of players we’ve had turn up this year. We started the season with a new president and a new approach to what we were doing and that translated into players coming back to the club.”
Bulldogs and Emus play at 1.40pm.
- BATHURST BULLDOGS: 1 Liam Berry, 2 Jock Grant, 3 Josh Carter, 4 Vincent Reyland, 5 Travis Gibson, 6 Dylan Carter, 7 Haydn Christie-Johnson, 8 Adam Dwyer, 9 Kurt Weekes, 10 Scott Johnston, 11 Tyler Cook, 12 Adam Powell, 13 Dylan Sinclair, 14 Riley Hanrahan, 15 Phil Tonkin
- ORANGE EMUS: 1 Michael Graham, 2 Stuart Ferguson, 3 Steve Fergus, 4 Harry Hamilton, 5 Simon Badgery, 6 Sam Greatbatch, 7 Joel Urban, 8 Rob Thorburn, 9 AJ Sykes, 10 Matt Campbell ©, 11 Cam Rasmussen, 12 Simon Thompson, 13 Aidan Baker, 14 Scott Hubbard, 15 Graydon Staniforth