The Blowes Clothing Cup paradigm has officially shifted.
Bulldogs rampaged to the 2019 minor premiership but after years of promising plenty and delivering nothing come finals, there were still question marks hanging over the Bathurst side's ability to perform in the clutch leading into Saturday's major semi-final.
Bulldogs answered those questions at Anne Ashwood Park by edging out defending premiers Orange Emus to score a stirring, 23-21 victory, winning the right to host the grand final for the first time since 2002 in the process.
It's amazing ... our first goal was to get the minor premiership, second to get a home grand final and we've done it.Bulldogs' Will Oldham
With a monumental defensive effort Bulldogs defied their lack of possession to secure the two-point victory, Emus controlled possession for the lion's share of the clash and had a couple of chances to snatch a win in the dying stages too.
After Will Oldham's penalty goal 13 minutes from full-time, his third of the day, pushed Bulldogs to their ultimately match-winning lead, Emus five-eighth Jamil Khalfan had a chance to knock one of his own over.
His shot with seven minutes to go crashed into the left upright and even after Nas Havealeta's sin-binning two minutes later left Emus down the 14, the greens had one final chance just before the siren.
WATCH: Jamil Khalfan's 73rd minute penalty goal attempt hits the upright...
They looked to have taken it too.
TJ Cunynghame nudged a box kick into the open backfield and Carter Hirini won the race and planted the ball down, but referee Jarrod Simpson had deemed hooker Charlie Henley offside from the kick and brought play back for a Bulldogs penalty.
The minor premiers held onto the ball for the remaining 60 seconds and punched it into touch after the siren sounded, sparking raucous celebrations from them and their faithful fans on the Ashwood Park hill.
"It's amazing, it's a different feeling to last year, a home grand final. Our first goal was to get the minor premiership, second to get a home grand final and we've done it," Oldham said, relishing a victory over his former club.
"They did have a lot of ball, but we really [pride ourselves] on our defence, the way we defended [on Saturday], the boys really stood up for each other."
Oldham admitted he wasn't thinking about much over what proved to be the match-winning kick, especially considering few at Ashwood Park would've predicted those final points coming 13 out from full-time.
"Not much was going through the head really, just sort of a blank space. I just wanted to kick it properly, follow through in the normal position and hope for the best," Oldham said.
Naturally Emus coach Pete Bromley cut a dejected figure after the game, the loss spells the end of Emus' stranglehold over the decider, which hasn't been anywhere but Endeavour Oval since 2014.
Disappointed with the loss he lauded his troops' effort, although the greens' defeat was compounded by a knee injury to inspirational skipper Nigel Staniforth too, who came from the field at the 55-minute mark.
It hurts, for sure, but it'll hurt more if we get another crack at them in a fortnight and don't get the right result again.Emus coach Pete Bromley
"Whenever you lose a player like Nigel it makes a difference because of his talk, his leadership, his direction, he's the captain for a reason. But that's not what decided the game, we'll see how he is during the week and hope he's right to go next weekend," Bromley said.
"We spoke during the week about how tough it would be coming down here, considering their [21-game winning streak at Ashwood Park] and it was that tough and once again, we couldn't quite get there.
"Those last five minutes were crucial when we were down to 14 men, and I thought we were unlucky not to get that last try.
"It hurts, for sure, but it'll hurt more if we get another crack at them in a fortnight and don't get the right result again that day, so our focus is completely on next weekend against either Forbes or Cowra, we've got seven days to prepare for that one now."
WATCH: Bulldogs celebrate after securing their first home grand final in 17 years...
Emus controlled the opening stages of the game and they scored first on the back of that, Jack Marchinton charged down a Scott Johnston clearance and Lachie Harris latched onto the rebound to score.
Staniforth added the extras but Bulldogs hit back straight away through Joe Nash, Oldham slotting the kick.
Staniforth and Oldham traded penalty goals after that and Emus led 13-10 after the former's second, but after 18 scoreless minutes the hosts took back the lead on the stroke of half-time and sent a fair old message in doing so.
They won a string of penalties inside Emus' 22 - the only time they spent any meaningful time outside their own half in the opening 40 minutes - and elected to take the scrum twice in a row. On the second of those they pushed the greens over from five metres out, Alex Weal the beneficiary on the scoresheet.
Oldham nailed the kick, and another penalty goal just after the break too, extending Bulldogs' lead to seven at 20-13.
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The greens wrestled back momentum and Harris dived over for his second in the 49th minute, Staniforth missed that kick before being helped off not long after.
Khalfan took the kicking duties and nailed his first shot at the goal, that penalty goal pushing Emus back in front by a solitary point with 20 to go, Oldham nailed his ultimately match-winning penalty.
"Discipline was something we knew Bulldogs would feed off if we gave them the chance, and they did, Will doesn't miss many kicks, unfortunately for us," Bromley said.
While Bulldogs will enjoy the week off Emus will face the winner of Sunday's minor semi-final, either Forbes or Cowra, at Endeavour Oval next Saturday.
- BATHURST BULLDOGS 23 (Joe Nash, Alex Weal tries; Will Oldham 2 conversions; 3 penalty goals) def ORANGE EMUS 21 (Lachie Harris 2 tries; Nigel Staniforth conversion; Staniforth 2, Jamil Khalfan penalty goals)
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