IN round one they were guilty of being flat, but in the second round of the 2020 Ferguson Cup the Bathurst Bulldogs women brought intensity and a whole load of aggression as well.
Backs and forwards alike hit hard in defence and brought strength to the breakdown as they posted a 45-14 win over Orange Emus at Ashwood Park on Saturday.
Unlike a week earlier against Dubbo Kangaroos when it took Bulldogs until the final quarter to click, this time they ran in 38 points before Emus finally crossed.
The desire to win on their home soil and do it against the team they beat in the 2019 grand final was obvious.
"It was a massive, massive improvement. All the girls had a good week at training and yeah, it showed," Bulldogs coach Tuma Aisake said.
"We were very flat last week, so at training we all said 'This is what we want to do' and we started well. I am very proud of the girls, after last week they said it's start again and they came back well.
"The aggression, yeah unreal."
The game was mere seconds old when that aggression first showed. Experienced Bulldogs Mel Waterford and Edwina Ulberg combined to pilfer the ball off Emus.
While a knock-on followed as Ulberg tried to quickly spread the ball, Bulldogs made amends with a big push from the scrum then smart work from scrumhalf Mandy Scott.
They won the ball back, put it through the hands and winger Mardi Watts applied the polish.
Watts scored again in the sixth minute, a strong fend and blistering pace seeing her burst through Emus' defence and run some 80 metres to score.
Marita Shoulders charging onto a the ball from a penalty tap, Scott backing up after a Gaby Fahy break and a good fend and accuracy with the boot from Daisy Morrissey saw the score skip out to 33-0 by half-time.
Bulldogs were dominating the ruck - when they couldn't pilfer they often pressured the tackled Emus player enough to see them penalised for not releasing.
Former NSW under 17s sevens representative Teagan Miller, in her first game in two years, helped put Bridie Comiskey over early in the second half.
But Emus lifted. They competed better at the breakdown, strung phases together and on the stroke of three-quarter time, flyhalf Nikki D'Aquino crossed. She converted to make it 38-7.
While Watts - again on the back of her fend and pace - made it a hat-trick to start the fourth quarter, Emus did not give up. On the siren a brilliant pass from Jacky Lyden put an unmarked Jesyca Pearson over.
"They all stood up and made some big tackles, especially our new back line," Aisake said.
"We've got new forwards too, so we've sorta had to start again this year. But the older girls are showing the young ones what to do.
"They are a very quality side Emus, so to win like that, it was good. Our goal kicker Daisy played well, Mardi she was awesome."