NOT doing the hard yards up the middle, that is what Bathurst Bulldogs coach Jordan Bull thinks cost his side their undefeated status in the Ferguson Cup on Saturday.
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The Bulldogs fell 22-5 to fierce rivals the Dubbo Roolettes in the top of the table clash at Dubbo's number No.1 Oval.
"We didn't do the hard yards up the middle early," Bull said.
"Dubbo played well, we came back strong at the end there but I suppose Dubbo outplayed us a bit.
"I suppose we didn't do the hard yards up the middle, we tried to go a bit wide too early.
"But it's alright we've got a lot of improvement to do, it was a good game between two of the top teams and you can say why."
While Bull was able to see positives in defeat for Bulldogs, Dubbo co-coach Gus McDonald couldn't be more pleased with the way his side performed.
"I thought it was a good game, it's the best games to play when you play Bulldogs because they always bring it," he said.
"Our girls want to play them as well so it is exciting, it was a cracking game and it was physical which is good."
Dubbo got on the scoreboard first as Rebecca Bergmann pounced on a loose ball to put the hosts up 5-0.
From there the game was an arm wrestle between the two top sides in the competition, Bathurst having several chances close to the hosts try line but able to capitalise.
Em Caton scored Dubbo's second try of the match on the stroke of half-time but the conversion was unsuccessful as the hosts went into the break with a 10-0 lead.
Coming out of the break both teams looked energised, but Dubbo scrum-half Janalee Conroy and Alahna Ryan scored in quick succession for the hosts.
Bathurst never stopped trying to score points regardless of the scoreboard and they were rewarded for their efforts when Zoe Lee crossed on full-time with the conversion missing to end the match 22-5 in favour of Dubbo.
The win moves Dubbo to outright first on the ladder and McDonald said there is a lot of respect between the two sides.
"A lot of these girls play Central West together and have played in representative teams throughout so I think Dogs enjoy playing us as much as we enjoy playing them," he said.
Bull also echoed McDonald's thoughts on the respect between the two sides after several players from both teams caught up after the game.
"They are all very good mates as you could see at the end when they were all getting around each other," he said.
McDonald believes the home side's defence was crucial in setting up the win on Saturday.
"Our line speed was on song today, it's something we have been working on and getting the girls onto that front foot," he said.
"Because they make a lot of metres in their defence and they are aggressive at it as well.
"That set up the platform for us."
Bull couldn't help but be proud of the effort his side produced and was happy to see the Bulldogs score late.
"A hundred per cent [it was good], they never gave up and we got a try at the end which was very pleasing," he said.
"It's going to be a good battle between us and them each time we play them."
DUBBO ROOLETTES 22 (Janalee Conroy, Em Caton, Alahna Ryan, Rebecca Bergmann tries; Madeline Piccolo conversion) defeated BATHURST BULLDOGS 5 (Zoe Lee try)
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