THE halfway point of the Blowes Clothing Cup season marks the arrival of the match which everyone has been counting down for: Bathurst Bulldogs against Orange Emus.
Bulldogs will welcome Emus to Ashwood Park this Saturday as the Bathurst men prepare to take on an Orange squad who have thoroughly dismantled the rest of the competition in 2017.
This Saturday’s match had the potential to pit the only two unbeaten sides in the competition together until the Bulldogs went down to Forbes Platypi last round.
That result certainly hasn’t taken the shine off the upcoming clash, or diminished the Bulldogs’ winning aspirations.
“They’re hungry as hell to beat them,” Bulldogs co-coach Nathan Pearce said.
“Chris Plunkett and a couple of the other senior guys at training were talking about the fact that we haven’t beaten them since the opening round of matches in 2015 and how badly they want to change that.
“We’ve definitely got the firepower to do it.”
Bulldogs were dealt a cruel blow to those winning hopes on Tuesday night when fly half Scott Johnston rolled his ankle at training and was ruled out of the Emus meeting.
Josh Oxley returns to the first grade starting side to patch the gap.
Plunkett returns to the Bulldogs ranks after a concussion ruled him out of the Forbes match.
In the eyes of Pearce the pressure isn’t on his team come Saturday.
“No-one has got within 40 points of Emus yet this season, so even if we do that we’ve managed to do better than any other team this year,” he said.
“This match is almost like a free hit for us. Everyone’s expecting Emus to win, and if both teams play at their best then that’s what happens.
“Nick Hughes-Clapp owns the lineout. He’s the best exponent of it in Central West rugby. We have no-one who can match it with him in the jump so our focus is putting pressure on the whole lineout.
“No matter what the result is it won’t really affect us in the long term.”
Saturday is a big day for the Bulldogs club with their Memorial Day celebrations.
Bulldogs first grade will be wearing special jerseys for the game, which will then be auctioned off to raise money for Carenne School.
Main game kick-off is 3.15pm.