A first-half ambush set up Bulldogs’ stunning upset win over the previously undefeated Dubbo Kangaroos in Saturday’s Central West Junior Rugby Union under 13s grand final, sealing the first junior premiership in the Bathurst club’s history in the process.
On top of that, until 2017 a Bathurst Bulldogs side had never qualififed for the semi-finals – let alone go on to make a grand final and then win a premiership.
“That’s it, first semi-final (appearance), first time in a grand final and now first premiership, we couldn’t be happier,” Bulldogs coach Shane Cantrill, sporting a grin from ear to ear, enthused.
After being walloped 31-10 by Roos in the major semi-final a fortnight ago, Bulldogs shot to and 19-7 lead at half-time and built on that even more in the second half to win by 23 – a massive turnaround by anyone’s standards.
“It’s fantastic, this side really deserve all the success they’ve had this season,” Cantrill said.
“Dubbo were undefeated but we were always positive, we were pumped for this game.
“We’ve got great structure to go wide and I think everyone saw that [on Saturday]. I mean, we would’ve probably liked to have gone wide a little more but Dubbo did well to stifle us out there at times.”
The achievement is made all the more impressive, and heart-warming, considering this Bulldogs side has been together since under 7s.
The club is always at odds to field title-contending sides simply due to the fact so many of their juniors attend St Stanislaus College, where they play their weekend rugby as well.
“That’s the thing, we always tend to have 11 and 12-year-olds playing because those older kids go to school at Stannies so we have struggled in the past,” Cantrill said.
“But this side we’ve had together since under 7s and the crux has been together all year, we’ve had three or four guys come back in and give us a boost too which was great.
“I’m just so pleased with them, it’s fantastic.”
Riley Langfield starred for the Bathurst side, scoring a hat-trick.
After he and his Bulldogs led 19-7 at half-time, they crossed again early in the second period, which all but put the result to bed.
Dubbo did well to score twice more in the back end of the game, but Bulldogs also scored another two tries to claim the 40-17 victory.
Dubbo skipper Nosa Obaseki, who scored one of Roos’ three five-pointers, was as classy as they come in his post-game speech, thanking the officials, organisers and all the parents of players too.
The tighthead prop also offered Bulldogs one simple comment.
“Congratulations, you just played better than us,” he said.
- BATHURST BULLDOGS 40 (Riley Langfield 3, Dylan Thurston, Sebastian Johns, Lachlan Hooper tries; Declan Fawkner 5 conv) def DUBBO KANGAROOS 17 (Nosa Obaseki, Leo Bassingthwaite, Darcy Weber tries; Billy Whitlock conv)