BATHURST Bulldogs captain Mel Waterford has given the thumbs up to the new finals format introduced into the Ferguson Cup this season.
With 15 teams forming part of the competition, now in its second year, Central West Rugby Union officials made the decision to expand the finals series to involve a top eight.
It saw the top four ranked sides in the minor premiership square off in qualifying finals last Saturday, while the sides who placed fifth to eighth played in eliminators.
Bathurst Bulldogs (64-0 versus West Wyalong) and Orange Emus (28-17 versus Temora) won those qualifying finals to earn this Saturday off, while CSU (72-12 versus Mudgee) and Narromine (24-14 versus Forbes) kept their title hopes alive.
"Because our catchment is so spread as opposed to the boys, where they've got the three cup tiers, to try and make it fair and counter-act all the travel and all the different pathways ... they opened it up to the top eight teams to give those teams more of a chance," Waterford said.
"I think it's a great idea.
"At the end the table, the way it fell, besides Narromine surprising everyone there at the end, it has pretty much been what people thought."
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Forbes had beaten defending premiers Bathurst Bulldogs and 2018 runners-up CSU during the regular season as well as posting two 100-point plus scores to qualify for the finals in sixth.
While the Platypi were favoured to beat Narromine in their eliminator and led heading into the final five minutes, the Gorillas fought back to snatch the win.
Still, Waterford said having former Wallaroos flanker Rebecca Smyth certainly helped the Gorillas' cause and as for the Bulldogs' big winning margin against West Wyalong, it did not really reflect the effort of the Redbacks.
"It's always nice to have a Wallaroo back in your team. They might not be able to get into the holes anymore, but they sure know how to put people into them," she said.
"And poor old West Wyalong, they played a lot better than the score reflected and I think they are a bit injury depleted too ... they started with 11 and finished with nine, they gave it everything they possibly could have."