THERE is no doubting Bathurst Bulldogs have the sort of pace and skill in their back line to make many of their Ferguson Cup rivals jealous, but come this Saturday they will be fighting for survival against another outfit with similar strengths.
That team is Narromine.
While the Bulldogs are aiming to qualify for their third consecutive grand final when they take to Endeavour Oval in the preliminary final, newcomers Narromine will be trying to utilise their speed on the fringes to extend what has already been an impressive debut season.
Bulldogs and Narromine have yet to meet in 2019 - they were on different sides of the draw for the regular season - but Bathurst skipper Mel Waterford saw the Gorillas in action during their elimination final win over Forbes a fortnight ago.
That's how she knows one of the Gorillas' real strengths.
"The advantage for them is that most of the teams on our side of the draw haven't played them. People don't know what they can do, what they're capable of, which makes them surprising," Waterford said.
"They play a very good style of 10s rugby, very fast, they pop a lot, they don't get into the contest of losing the ball and they have a lot of quick, go-forward momentum so you're constantly on the back foot chasing them.
"The recycling was good and from one to 10 they were playing as a group instead of forwards and backs. They've got some speed on the wing if they can get the ball out there.
"They are definitely a threat, it is definitely not going to be an easy game.
"But I definitely think our girls are up for the challenge, we've also got some fast girls that can tackle well and defend well. It will make for a very even contest."
While Narromine downed Temora in last Saturday's sudden-death semi-final, Bulldogs earned the week off playing for their 64-0 qualifying final win over West Wyalong.
However, the Bathurst outfit was still put through their paces at training in a physical defence-orientated session last week and have worked hard on combinations in their preparation this week.
Waterford hopes that, as well as their previous finals experience, will put them in good stead for Saturday, with Bulldogs to be at full strength - save prop Haylee Lepaio - for the clash.
"We've played semi-finals footy before and we know what you've got to do. Take each game as it is and respecting each opposition as you're going along," she said.
"Even in that last round game against Cowra, we were focused on finishing the round off the way we wanted to. It has worked really well, with new girls and younger girls in the team it just takes that pressure off which you have when you've had two competition wins before."
If Bulldogs are to win they will join the four other Bathurst sides which have already qualified for their respective deciders at Ashwood Park on August 24.
Kick-off in Saturday's preliminary final at Endeavour Oval is 11.30am, with CSU and Orange Emus to contest the other.