PRIOR to kick-off in Saturday’s Blowes Clothing Cup match against Orange City, Bathurst Bulldogs coach Dean Oxley spoke to his men about making a point on home turf.
They certainly did what he asked, running in nine tries at Ashwood Park to hand the visiting Lions a 61-5 defeat.
It was an effort highlighted by speed. Harry Webber, Ben Shepherd and Riley Hanrahan were damaging around the fringes with their acceleration, the forwards were quick to recycle at the breakdown, and in defence Bulldogs got off the line well.
The win see the Bulldogs remain unbeaten from three appearances at Ashwood Park this season and it was a big improvement on the away performance which saw them go down 27-19 to Dubbo a week earlier.
“After last week against Dubbo – it was very disappointing to see the performance we put out there as we had aspirations to finish this first round in a strong way – that hurt,” Oxley said.
“So today we wanted to prove a point at the ‘Dog house’ that things were going to be different when they came down here.
“All the stuff we have been doing came together … we came out here and we really played the football we have been training.”
It took seven minutes for Bulldogs to score their first try of the match and it was indicative of what was to come as centre Webber made a break down the right edge and found Hanrahan in support.
Webber was involved again soon after as he threw a cut-out pass to put Shepherd into space and backed up his winger to get the ball back. He ran around to score under the sticks and give Kurt Weekes an easy conversion.
The early flurry of points continued as Hanrahan’s explosive pace saw him nab another in the 16th minute.
Down 21-0 City managed to work inside Bulldogs half and for nine minutes they strung together phases and applied pressure.
But they couldn’t find a way through and after coughing up possession, the hosts went the length of the field to score via Brad Glasson.
The Lions finally got on the board five out from the break when a strong Tom Westcott run set up Sam Dwyer.
While Dwyer twice came close to intercepts – anticipating play well once in the first half then again in the second – his 35th minute try was to be City’s only joy.
Webber replied two minutes later to make it 35-5 at the break.
Two more tries – from Glasson and Webber – inside the first 10 minutes of the second half further blew out the margin and Oxley took the chance to inject his bench players into the contest.
Even then Bulldogs maintained control with Peter Fitzsimmons and Shepherd adding to the tally before full-time. Weekes ended up converting eight of the nine tries for a commanding win.
“They were just a lot better than we were,” Lions coach Steve Hamson said.
“We started out a bit flat. The first half we had no injury excuses, the second half we got a few injuries – that’s just footy, that’s the way happens.
“They were just faster than what they were doing than us, their execution was better and we missed a lot of first up tackles.”