IT was three years in the making, but in finally ending a winless run at Cowra on Saturday the Bathurst Bulldogs were victors in more than just once sense.
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In posting a 21-20 win over the Cowra Eagles, the Bathurst Bulldogs earned hosting rights for this season's Blowes Cup grand final day.
The major semi-final win also erased the disappointment of missing out on the minor premiership to Cowra on points differential.
On top of that, the win gave Bulldogs a fresh shot of belief ahead of the biggest game of the season.
"To be honest the disappointment of losing at Forbes and losing the minor premiership through that game was still with us, a lot of guys were upset, but that's gone now," Bulldogs first XV co-coach Dean Oxley said.
"In the last couple of years Bathurst has really struggled to win at Cowra, so the boys might have a little bit more belief now."
It was season 2019, the year Bulldogs last won the Blowes Cup, that the first XV had its most recent joy at Cowra.
In May that year the Bulldogs came from six points down at half-time to beat the Eagles 28-18 in Cowra. Two months later, Bathurst posted an even more convincing 33-7 win.
In 2020 as the region was hit hard by COVID-19 Cowra opted out of the competition and in 2021 the only meeting between the two clubs on Eagles soil saw the hosts win 36-22.
Earlier this year Cowra bettered the Bulldogs 34-23 in Cowra, but in the major semi-final Bathurst finally had road trip joy.
Oxley's men came from 20-7 down to clinch victory by a point. It gives Bulldogs the valuable grand final hosting rights.
"I just knew it was going to be one of those games where if we stuck to what we did throughout the year, then we were going to be in with a chance," Oxley said of the win.
"We just had to keep playing fast football and bank on them not being able to stay with us at the end.
"To get the grand final is fantastic. It's only the second time since we've been down here at Anne Ashwood that we've hosted, 2019 was the other time, so I'm very happy to have that opportunity.
"In 2019 Bathurst came down and got around us, it was a cracker of a day and it was huge crowd and I'll love for the Bathurst community to come again and get behind us."
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