PLENTY of points, momentum swings and a host of yellow cards but most importantly for the Bathurst Bulldogs Blowes Cup first grade side there was a premiership for them at the end of Saturday's grand final.
Bulldogs prevailed 57-27 over rivals Orange Emus in the decider at Ashwood Park to defend their title and claim the club's first back-to-back premierships since the 1996 to '98 treble.
It won't be a grand final remembered for any free-flowing football, as evidenced by the five yellow cards shared between the teams, but it does deserve to be celebrated as a showcase of Bulldogs' signature expansive rugby.
A shock blowout was on the cards after Bulldogs stormed out to a 32-6 half-time lead - more than doubling the points they scored in the entirety of 2022's 15-13 grand final win over the same opponent.
However, the home side had to see off a fightback from the Emus, who scored twice early in the second half, picking up one of those tries during Bulldogs skipper Peter Fitzsimmons' 10 minute spell on the sidelines.
Bulldogs knuckled down to the task and regained momentum when the visitors had Nicholas Hughes-Clapp and Ollie Harvison shown yellow cards in quick succession.
Two of the Bulldogs' late-year bolters, Sione Naufahu and Jarrod Zuvela, each scored twice in the win while centre Adam Plummer was named player of the grand final for the second year running.
Bulldogs' success completed a clean sweep of the senior men's grand finals after their third and second grade squads prevailed earlier in the day.
Bathurst co-coach Dean Oxley said it felt appropriate that his side had to undergo one more mentally testing scenario in order to prove their premiership mettle.
"It was a big day, and normal when you play in grand finals you don't play your best footy because of the occasion. We spoke a lot during the week around the psychology of what we needed to do," he said.
"When we had a couple of boys carded we probably tipped over the edge a little bit. You've got to play close to the edge at these levels of football, but credit goes to all the boys about the way they stuck to the process.
"I set a high standard, and the boys know that, but without those standards the boys don't get these results. I expect 100 per cent, and that's what this group has done. Other groups have found that tough but this group have eaten that pressure."
Oxley said that outside of the 10 minute window where Emus put his side under pressure it was a great showcase of his team's ability to play to their high-pace game plan.
"I've been waiting for the moment where we believe so much in what we do that we can play with complete freedom. It was that freedom that got us off to such a great start," he said.
"To their credit they scored those two tries to put us under pressure. But belief is an amazing thing, and once you've got that it builds confidence to that point that you can do anything.
"There were some amazing tries today. It was an amazing day at Ann Ashwood."
Emus coach Nigel Staniforth gave credit to Bulldogs for their performance and praised his team's ability to fight through challenges to continue the club's grand final appearance streak.
"Bathurst came out firing and they were playing some great footy. They were beating us to the punch and they got a roll on
"I was proud of how the boys responded because they could have really folded over and said 'that's it'. We had a few opportunities midway through the first half when we had four penalties in a row but we missed out and we were buggered again.
"That's where we've been all season, chasing our tails a bit, but in saying that Bathurst were just too good today. They were able to put the foot on the throat, and that's going to be a bit of a learning curve for the boys.
"To make the changeovers that we have and still make a ninth straight grand final, while consistently losing a lot of guys through the year, is something for the boys to be proud of."
Bulldogs stunned the Emus with tries to Hunter Davis and Plummer inside the first six minutes taking them out to a quick 12-0 lead.
Emus opted to take a penalty on their first trip close to the Bulldogs try line and then missed out on an opportunity to reel the margin in further when knocking on shortly after a line break.
Kurt Weekes missed his first penalty goal attempt of the day but didn't miss the next opportunity midway through the half.
Again Emus opted to take a shot at the uprights when close to the Bulldogs try line, making it 15-6 with Dan Jackson's successful shot.
Emus' fortunes took a turn for the worse when Zuvela's first try of the day was quickly followed up by a yellow card to Sam Greatbatch.
Bulldogs scored from the very first phase after the scrum through Naufahu.
The joy for the Bathurst flanker was short lived when he was shown yellow for making dangerous contact with Emus fullback Kyle Hanns while attempting to kick the ball.
Still, the points continued to come for the hosts through Weekes' second penalty of the day.
Orange's Josh Bass found a break in the Bulldogs' defensive line after the half-time siren but his pass out to the right wing was a fraction too high, leading to a knock on.
Emus came out fired up after the break as Charlie Steele-Park scored just 60 seconds into the half.
Three minutes later Fitzsimmons was shown yellow for a late hit and Emus used the numbers advantage to find another try, this time to Charlie Henley.
Bulldogs survived another close call near their try line during the one-man disadvantage and evidently found a shot of confidence from the defensive effort.
Weekes' third penalty goal of the day came before Emus' double dose of yellow cards, which led to a try off a clever short lineout pass to Zuevla.
Even when Emus returned to full strength Bulldogs remained on a roll, scoring tries through Naufahu and Daniel Woods down the left wing.
Josh Bass picked up a consolation try with 90 seconds to go before Weekes put away his fourth and final penalty of the day on the siren.
BATHURST BULLDOGS 57 (Sione Naufahu 2, Jarrod Zuvela 2, Hunter Davis, Adam Plummer, Daniel Woods tries; Kurt Weekes 5 conversions; Weekes 4 penalties) defeated ORANGE EMUS 27 (Charlie Steele-Park, Charlie Henley, Joshua Bass tries; Dan Jackson 2, Bass conversions; Jackson 3 penalties)