A blistering pace and a heaping of pressure allowed Bathurst an extended Astley Cup points lead in the final stanza of the first week of competition in Dubbo on Friday.
The Bathurst college team were riding high after winning the first event of the day, the athletics competition, while Dubbo struggled in the soccer competitions after losing a heartbreaker in girl's soccer and then coming to a draw in the boys game.
Dubbo entered the girls hockey game, the final event of the first week, trailing by 22 points in the overall Astley Cup scoreboards and aimed to regain the lead with a comfortable 2 -1 win over Bathurst that would have given them back the lead.
However, the visitors quickly set a stunning pace that the home team struggled to match, spending most of their first half under pressure and fighting to keep Bathurst away from their goal under the guidance of Captain and goalkeeper Lilli Campbell.
"She's actually just been away at a state carnival, where she's been selected in the state squad; it was an amazing effort from her coming off the back of that in a hectic week," Coach Jack Eckford said.
"Unreal effort from her, she's a real leader on the team and to have a goalkeeper that good in a school team is a real privilege."
Bathurst coach Jacqui Hood conceded that it was always going to be a challenge getting around Campbell.
"We've come up against her a few times before, and we've tried to work out various ways to get around her."
Bathurst managed it once in the opening minutes of the game, then struggled to find another way through before Dubbo equalised mid-way through the game's first half.
Dubbo struggled to find opportunities to capitalise on the momentum that they'd gained and moments before the first half closed Bathurst's Captain Sophie McCauley dashed Dubbo's hopes with another goal, bringing the visitors to 2 -1 heading into the second half and making Dubbo's fight back all the harder.
McCauley was a constant threat throughout the middle of the field and inside the scoring line and Dubbo's defensive efforts began to crumble in the second half as the Dubbo side began to fade in the face of the more experienced hockey players on the Bathurst team.
"Especially with their strong players, they really brought a lot of pace to the game, and our girls, especially the inexperienced ones, haven't really played a game with a pace like that," Eckford said.
Dubbo's best shone through in the opening minutes of the second half where they managed a goal that briefly equalised the score at 2 - 2 before Bathurst began to run rampant across the field, securing three more goals and setting a lead that Dubbo struggled to chase.
With the 5 - 2 victory, the Bathurst side have appended a strong lead to their Astley Cup efforts, something that will serve them well as they prepare to meet Orange in the competition's second week.
"I think Orange High is always going to be a challenge and any Astley Cup is always open," Hood said.