Emus take down Dogs to remain unbeaten at season’s halfway point

HITTING THE LINE: Emus prop Michael Graham takes a huge carry in Saturday's bonus point win over Bulldogs, which keeps the greens undefeated. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

HITTING THE LINE: Emus prop Michael Graham takes a huge carry in Saturday's bonus point win over Bulldogs, which keeps the greens undefeated. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

“Too good”.

That was the simple message Bathurst Bulldogs coach Nathan Pearce offered his Orange Emus counterpart, Paul Ringland, after full-time at Anne Ashwood Park on Saturday afternoon.

Spot on really, considering Emus had just posted a 29-15 over Bulldogs – considered the greens’ biggest competition for the 2017 Blowes Clothing Cup title at the moment – to remain unbeaten at the halfway point of the season.

Emus’ speed at the breakdown impressed, so too their defence as the greens kept the hosts to just two five-pointers.

One of those was a consolation try too, which came with just four seconds remaining on the clock.

Even with Emus’ defensive hitman Nick Hughes-Clapp in the sin-bin in the second half, Bulldogs couldn’t add to their score.

And yet, Pearce was still overwhelmingly optimistic following the defeat – his side’s second of the season.

“That’s the closest anyone has got [to Emus] … now we know where we’re at,” he said.

“I counted four line breaks in that first half and we just didn’t capitalise, that’s a credit to Emus, they really did adjust well.

“They’re a quality side, it shows if you look at their record.

“But after the game the boys were talking and they know they’ve got [what it takes].”

Emus applied pressure early and reaped the rewards at the eight-minute mark, with gun winger Levi Russell grabbing the first of two tries he scored. Skipper Nigel Staniforth added the extras, giving his side a 7-0 lead.

Bulldogs lifted after that early lapse though, probing and camping inside Emus’ 22.

Adam Geal looked likely after latching onto a crisp Peter Fitzsimmons cut-out ball, but – not for the last time – was dragged down with the try-line in sight.

From that defence, came offence for Emus, and Al Hattersley dived over. 

Bulldogs responded with another flurry of attacking raids and finally, 27 minutes in, cracked Emus through Fitzsimmons.

Josh Weekes missed the conversion, and a penalty attempt, and his side went into the break trailing Emus 14-5.

The nine-point deficit certainly gave Bulldogs some hope, but the job was made supremely tougher when Emus halfback Sam Green scored his first try of the season in the 45th minute.

A Weekes penalty made it 19-8 soon after, and the Bathurst side was handed a huge, 10-minute opportunity to stamp its authority on the game when Hughes-Clapp was shown the cheese.

Instead, Bulldogs put their kick from touch from the resulting penalty dead in-goal. Staniforth kicked a penalty not long after, before Russell grabbed his second. Sam Roberson scored on full-time for Dogs.

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