THIS Saturday at Ashwood Park Bathurst Bulldogs will be aiming for the 12th first XV premiership in the club's history.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
If the side Dean Oxley and Chris Plunkett co-coach wins against Orange Emus, it will be the first time since 2019 that Bulldogs will hoist the premiership trophy.
It will come 45 years after a team of Bulldogs first celebrated top grade glory.
The year was 1977 and the Bathurst Bulldogs were backing up from a heart-breaking 1976 campaign.
The club had gone through the entire 1976 season undefeated, only to be denied Orange City in the grand final.
The 1977 Central West Rugby first grade competition featured 11 teams that season, which included Bathurst, Blayney, Dubbo Kangaroos, Mitchell College (now known as CSU Bathurst), Lithgow (now defunct), Mudgee, Orange Agricultural College, (now known as CSU Orange) Orange City, Orange Emus, Wellington and Yeoval.
A Central West competition had been launched immediately after the Second World War, but the Bulldogs had proved unsuccessful up until this point and 1977 was their best chance yet to break the club's long first grade drought after it went through the regular season undefeated again, winning 14 games from 15 and drawing one match.
After having a week-off in the first week of finals, Bulldogs clashed with Orange City in the major semi-final in a 1976 grand final rematch.
Played at the Bathurst Sportsground, Bulldogs were up 16-3 at half-time courtesy of tries from Mick Bullock and Mark Watson, with Peter Medway slotting home a conversion, penalty and drop goal (tries were then worth four points).
The game would eventually finish 16-7 in Bathurst's favour, meaning they were off to the premiership decider against city rival's Mitchell College, who had came from third place in the regular season to qualify for the grand final.
The Bathurst side for the decider was: Alan Barnes, Ron Graham, Sandy Robinson, Andy Kells, Mark Watson, Lars Hedberg, John Lloyd-Green, Peter Wade, Paddy Daley, Mick Bullock, Mark Collins, Peter Medway, Alistair Robinson, Blair Webb and Chris Kell.
It was the students who held a slender 6-4 lead at the break, with the Bulldogs fearing a repeat performance of 1976.
However, a stirring second half rally delivered the Bulldogs' maiden Central West premiership, with the club's forwards, who were the stronger and more experienced of the two sides, wearing down the Mitchell defence.
Bathurst would cross for three second-half tries, outscoring the Mitchell side four-tries-to-none across the entire match.
Aided by a damp Bathurst Sportsground track, the Bulldogs contained the quick Mitchell backline, who proved a dangerous threat in the first stanza.
Mitchell second rower Ross Reynolds booted a penalty goal, while fullback Merv Bourke slotted home a drop goal in the first-half, with Bulldogs' only points coming from flying winger John Lloyd-Green.
Despite a 5-2 set scrum deficit and a 15-9 lineout disadvantage in the first-half, Mitchell still had the better of the territory in the first half but the students' second half play cost them.
Flyhalf Peter Medway had the Bulldogs in front just after the restart, landing a penalty goal to have Bathurst up 7-6.
With victory in sight and the Mitchell defence tiring, the Bulldogs began to look dangerous and prop Sandy Robinson, scrumhalf Blair Webb and flanker Alistar Robinson all touched down for well-earned tries.
Webb and the two Robinsons caused a great deal of damage to Mitchell, along with captain and second rowers Lars Hedberg and Paddy Daley, as well centre Peter Wade and fullback Mick Bullock.
Bulldogs won the scrums 9-4 and the lineouts 9-6 in the second half, which helped aided the blue and gold's constant pressure on the students.
Bathurst Bulldogs went on to win another 10 grand finals: 1981, 1982, 1985, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2010, 2019.
BATHURST BULLDOGS 19 (John Lloyd-Green, Sandy Robinson, Blair Webb, Alistar Robinson tries; Peter Medway penalty goal) defeated MITCHELL COLLEGE 6 (Ross Reynolds penalty goal; Merv Bourke drop goal)
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.