BULLDOGS coach Nathan Pearce admits he is feeling a little nervous ahead of this Saturday’s Blowes Clothing Cup match against the Cowra Eagles.
It is not just Cowra’s strong showing against the undefeated Orange Emus last Saturday that has him tense, but the loss of inside centre Sam Roberson.
A consistently strong performer for the Bulldogs this season, Roberson has been sidelined with a broken leg. When he will return from that injury is an unknown and his on field leadership and creative spark in attack will be missed.
“Sam’s been absolutely bullet proof for us, when he got injured on Saturday I got the feeling that he’s going to be very hard to replace,” Pearce said.
“The 12 is a very important position on the field.”
Adam Miles, who has been used both off the bench and at outside centre of late, is the man given the job of filling Roberson’s absent spot.
While winger Adam Plummer returns from injury which will help the back line and number 8 Peter Fitzsimmons is back from suspension, Pearce also has to contend with losing hard-running lock Izaak Breen.
He was left with a broken bone in his foot after being hit by a car when changing a flat tyre this week.
“I feel like we might be playing a bit tighter this week and to be honest I’m not really sure what to expect from Cowra, but we’ve made the mistake of worrying too much about other teams before,” Pearce said.
The Bulldogs coach knows Cowra’s back line, which contains new Fijian recruits alongside the likes of John Grant and Jeremy Montgomery, will be a threat.
To limit the chances the Eagles get, Pearce wants his men to show better discipline than they did when beating Orange City last Saturday – Bulldogs being on the wrong side of a 23-9 penalty count – and lift at the breakdown.
“Our breakdown work last Saturday against City probably let us down, both in attack and defence,” Pearce said. “In attack we were a bit slow, while in defence our discipline needs to be a little bit better.”
Bulldogs head into the match sitting in second on the ladder and that is where Pearce wants to stay.
He feels Emus, who are currently 11 points clear at the top of the ladder, are a certainty for the minor premiership, but the rest of the top five is far from decided.
Dubbo Kangaroos (third) and Forbes (fourth) are both three points behind Bulldogs, while the fifth-placed Parkes Boars are under pressure from Orange City and Cowra.
“If Cowra can knock us off this week I think it will make second to fifth very tight, it’s a good comp this season,” Pearce said.
Kick off on Saturday at Ashwood Park is at 3.15pm.