The Bathurst Bulldogs all but ended the Dubbo Kangaroos’ Blowes Clothing Cup campaign this year, one which started with so much promise but delivered little.
Bulldogs coach Dean Oxley saw his side win at No. 1 Oval in the penultimate round of 2018 and he was one of many left surprised after Roos failed to play finals for the first time in seven seasons.
The powerhouse club had been tipped by many as the side to beat before the 2018 after one-time Wallaby Beau Robinson returned home to take on a director of coaching role, while Randwick’s former Shute Shield captain Mark Baldwin headlined the incoming recruits.
However, a staggering number of injuries and, more importantly, severe struggles with consistency, saw the Roos struggle and they eventually finished in fifth spot, finishing ahead of only a battling Orange City.
“It was a tough year for Dubbo last season and, in my opinion, they didn’t deliver to their potential,” Oxley said.
Oxley expects a much tougher excitement on April 6 after the newly-released Blowes Clothing Cup 2019 draw revealed the Doug will travel to No. 1 Oval for round one.
The match is a huge start to 2019 for both clubs, the latest in a long list of clashes between the two rivals.
The Bulldogs are looking to take the next step after falling short in the grand final again this year while the Roos have plenty to prove.
“We lost to Dubbo away (early) last season as well and I feel that lost us the minor premiership. It’ll be a big, first up game for us,” Oxley said.
“There’s a long rivalry between the two clubs, but Dubbo tend to host us very well.
“It’s a must win game and it’ll be a massive setback if we can’t get the win first up. However, we do have Dubbo at home twice, which does assist us with the travel.”
Dubbo hosted the Dogs twice in 2018, downing them 27-19 in round four before slumping to the 25-5 defeat late on in the campaign.
The Bathurst club only played host to the Roos once in 2018 but they made it count, running out dominant 43-7 victors.
Results like those are the ones the Roos are out to avoid in 2019, with Robinson stating last week he expected plenty of improvement from the first grade outfit.
“Our aim is to build and I feel we’ve got a foundation now in terms of the teams and in terms of the structures and systems we’ve got off the field,” he said when discussing plans for next year.
Roos play three of their first five games at home in 2019.
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