THEY were below full strength, they had forwards having to fill back line positions and they spent a more than half of the match chasing the lead, but Bathurst Bulldogs also had the composure which comes via experience.
And it was their experienced core who guided the way as the Bulldogs posted a hard-fought 39-38 Ferguson Cup win away from home against the Temora Tuskers.
Both sides headed into the clash undefeated, but during the first half it looked as if the Tuskers would be the first outfit to topple the defending premiers this season.
However, Bulldogs stuck to the task and ground down their rivals.
"We had to keep fighting back which was excellent, because we went over there with an under strength team. We had forwards playing in our backs because we have so many injuries at the moment ... Ali Stanford I think played every position on the field and just took it all in her stride," Bulldogs skipper Mel Waterford said.
"It was definitely the calmness of the senior players that made a difference, they really stepped up. They didn't get involved in the niggling, they didn't get involved when things weren't going our way, they kept everyone calm.
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"It was a really good test for us. We knew we didn't have to score off everything, we knew that if we were patient, things would happen.
"We learned a lot too, we tried to play more possession and hit the middle a bit more to open things up for our wings. We had to keep rethinking our game plan throughout the game, which is something we really hadn't had to do before, it was a real tactical game."
Waterford admitted her Bulldogs were flat in the opening half as they fought to stick with the Tuskers.
But two quick tries early in the third quarter was what really shifted momentum in favour of the Bulldogs.
It gave them their biggest lead of the match and from there were able to hold on even though a late Tuskers try made for a tense finish.
Winger Courtney Auld impressed as she finished with a brace, Haylee Lepaio crossed as she returned another barnstorming performance in the forward pack, while centre Nicole Schneider was another to shine.
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"We played really flat in the first 20, we'd get back even, then we'd fall behind and have to come back again - we pulled it off in the end though," Waterford said.
"A lot of their tries, they just broke through the side of the ruck then got out it to the wing and ran down the side. They just put themselves in good space.
"Ours were a lot more forwards tries, a lot of them came from working really hard and busting through the middle. We just tired them out in the end, the fitness work we have been doing definitely paid off."
It was the Bulldogs' fifth bonus point win in a row and keeps them on top of the Ferguson Cup ladder.