It’s not the way he envisaged the 2018 Blowes Clothing Cup ending but Bathurst Bulldogs coach Dean Oxley is pretty confident the pain of Saturday’s 12-point defeat will serve as fuel for his young side’s future campaigns.
The Dogs dominated large portions of the first period and enjoyed an 11-9 lead at the break.
The hosts, though, boast plenty of experience and rose to the occasion during a blistering second stanza to race in three tries and cap a 30-18 triumph on home soil.
Oxley highlighted his side’s first half and said when the Dogs opted to take the three-points on offer, he would have preferred them shoot for more points.
“We ended up coming up with three points instead of seven, in my mind. We needed to break away early,” he said.
“But I’m proud of the young side I’ve got and the way they showed up today.
”We took some steps forward, and while we didn’t get the prize we want to make sure we’re here again next year and to do that we’ve got to put in the work.”
Oxley is as experienced a mentor as there is in the region, but he says his players learnt more of Emus in the grand final than he can ever teach them.
“It’s a hole new level when you get to semi-finals and the boys have learnt that lesson,” he said.
“In saying that, I couldn’t have asked for more from the boys. We scored 18 points, but we needed to nullify 30 against us.”