AN intercept try to Brad Glasson capped off a crucial Blowes Clothing Cup victory for the Bathurst Bulldogs on Saturday after spending much of the game going toe-to-toe with Forbes Platypi.
Late tries to Alex Weal and Glasson helped Bulldogs break the deadlock to return home 36-22 winners and put themselves a victory away from the minor premiership.
Forbes, currently battling for a finals position, pushed Bulldogs to their limit.
The Bathurst men knew Forbes were going to be several steps better than their last meeting where Bulldogs thumped the Platypi 58-7 at Ashwood Park
Bulldogs' Scott Johnston said the Platypi brought their A-game in front of their home fans.
"It's one of the toughest road trips you go to and they had a lot to play for," he said.
"Both teams easily could have won it. Fitness probably got us home in the end and we didn't really put the game away until the last five minutes.
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"Most of the boys were confident of getting the win. It was just about getting our execution right, which for the first 30 minutes was pretty poor."
As expected, much of Saturday's contest was decided through the middle of the park.
Mark Donnelly, Harry Peacock, Justin Mobbs and Weal all scored well-earned tries for the Bulldogs in the win.
"The work that Alex Weal, Mark Donnelly and Adam Dwyer did in the middle was one of the key components of our win," Johnston said.
"Then there's the likes of Buzz Webber and Justin Mobbs who always have that knack of scoring an important try. It's great having blokes like that who are able to convert their ability into points."
Fitness probably got us home in the end and we didn't really put the game away until the last five minutes.Scott Johnston
Will Oldham was the other try scorer for Bulldogs, who also added three conversions.
Bulldogs coach Dean Oxley was full of praise for a Forbes outfit that pushed his men to the limit.
"It's probably the best footy I've seen them play all year. Mahe [Fangupo] had an excellent game," he said.
"With the game in the balance the boys really showed their composure. It was an important fixture for us because we were under pressure and we were able to respond to that.
"Being down throughout the game and finishing on top was great to see."
Bulldogs can now secure the minor premiership with a win over Orange Emus this Saturday.
The club's second grade and colts teams have already managed to wrap up top spots in their respective competitions.