The juggernaut that is Bulldogs rolled on at Pride Park on Saturday afternoon, the Bathurst side continuing its unbeaten start to the Blowes Clothing Cup season with a 60-nil hammering of an Orange City outfit which appeared hampered by the absence of their inspirational skipper Josh Tremain.
While the Lions' effort was once again unquestionable they appeared to lack the trademark passion and intensity of Tremain and were perhaps somewhat mentally and emotionally drained following a difficult week, Bulldogs coach Dean Oxley said.
He admitted he was expecting an absolute barrage from a fired-up Lions side, but that didn't quite come to fruition, understandably so in many ways considering the events of the week prior, where Tremain was left unconscious, hospitalised and ultimately ruled out for the entire season following an incident at Cowra.
I had a good chat with Josh Tremain [at Pride Park], he was there up and about but without that heart and soul they lacked intensity.Bulldogs coach Dean Oxley
"Take nothing away from Orange City, it's been a difficult week for them," Oxley said, praising the determination of the Lions.
"I was actually concerned about the game during the week (leading in) because we were expecting a passionate response from Orange City after the events of the week prior, we expected that passion and desire to be on display so our goal was to curb that early on and we did.
"But they probably did lack some intensity. I had a good chat with Josh Tremain [at Pride Park], he was there up and about but without that heart and soul they lacked that intensity he brings."
Bulldogs were as clinical in the 10-tries-to-none thumping as they have been all season, Ben Sheppeard's hat-trick one highlight while skipper Peter Fitzsimmons crossed for a double as well, and the bonus point win keeps them six points clear of second-placed Cowra.
"We were focused on maintaining discipline and sticking to structures, trying to not get too far way from what's been working (with the ball)," Oxley explained, his side undoubtedly ticking that box.
"Defence was a focus too after leaking 28 points the week before (against Dubbo Kangaroos) so a zero scoreline was something we wanted too, making sure we didn't drop off during the game."
The Bathurst side has now scored a whopping 288 points across the opening seven rounds of the season, a full 103 more than the next-best attacking side in Cowra, but Oxley says his powerhouse outfit still has plenty of room to improve with ball in hand.
He says continuing to develop their set-piece and attacking structure is a focus, mainly so their rivals don't "figure us out", and increased cohesion and continuity is something else they'll look for.
"We certainly want to continue building combinations because I don't think we've had the same team from one week to the next, that has built depth though," Oxley said, describing his squad as "fluid".
- BATHURST BULLDOGS 60 (Ben Sheppeard 3, Peter Fitzsimmons 2, Scott Johnston, Harry Peacock, unknown 3 tries; Will Oldham 5 conversions) def ORANGE CITY LIONS 0
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