This time Bulldogs will find the going tougher: Oxley

A LOT can change in just six weeks.

In fact, the Bathurst Bulldogs can change up almost the entirety of their starting 15 players.

When the Bulldogs welcome Cowra back to Ashwood Park this Saturday for the clubs' second meeting of the Blowes Clothing Cup season it’s going to be a different looking blue and gold squad to the one that belted the Eagles 47-7 in the opening round.

SPRINT: Bathurst Bulldogs' Kurt Weekes makes a run. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

SPRINT: Bathurst Bulldogs' Kurt Weekes makes a run. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

Just five Bulldogs players from the round one team will be starting for this weekend’s meeting against Cowra.

Bulldogs have made a raft of changes to their squad through the season but have coped well with the shuffling to sit second on the table.

While the ‘Dogs have learned a lot from their opening five matches Bathurst coach Dean Oxley expects the Eagles to have done the same.

“It will be a different approach to the game for us. Cowra’s on the back of two wins against Forbes and [Orange] City. They’ve done tremendously well,” he said.

“I spoken to their coach Col Jeffs and he’s very happy with the numbers he has back, the direction the club’s taking and how it’s building momentum.

“The scoreline didn’t indicate how close the game was in round one. We blew away in the second half but it was very much and arm wrestle up until 10 minutes after the break.

“Cowra’s success has breathed a lot of life into the competition. It’s fantastic what Col and the Cowra board have done. They’ve done a great job increasing their player base throughout the season.”

This Saturday’s match was originally scheduled to be an Eagles home fixture but has moved to Ashwood Park due to a scheduling conflict later in the year with Shute Shield.

Bulldogs come into the match after outclassing Orange City 61-5, on the back of a Harry Webber hat-trick.

Adding to the mental edge for Bulldogs will be their unbeaten record at home so far this season.

“Obviously we grow another leg with our crowd at home. Players are very thankful for their support … and they’re keen to always demonstrate their desire to perform,” Oxley said.

“Mark Donnelly captains our side. He didn’t play in that opening round against Cowra. He’s very confident with his leadership qualities.

“Adam Miles has played halfback, centres and all over the place. He’ll be at outside centre after playing inside centre last week. I’m really happy to have him resolving some of the issues we’ve had with player unavailability and injury.

“In our game against Orange City the scoreline didn’t indicate the intensity of the game and how it went. It’s just the final chapter of each game tends to be one way or the other when it blows out.”

The Bulldogs-Cowra match will cap off a great day of action at Ashwood Park.

The ground is playing host to the Under 15s and Under 16s Country Rugby Union Championships. The Blowes Clothing Cup game will end the day’s play at 3.45pm.