THEY were behind on the scoreboard, they were falling off tackles and turning over possession, so Bathurst Bulldogs focused on a proven method to switch momentum - attacking through defence.
It was a tactic which worked as the Bulldogs lifted and came away with a 49-14 win over the Forbes Platypi in Saturday's Blowes Cup match at Ashwood Park.
The bonus-point win was Bulldogs' first success of the season, but perhaps more importantly, it demonstrated the Bathurst side is capable of lifting when under pressure.
Forbes certainly applied plenty of it in the first quarter of the match.
"They came off the line hard, they carried hard, they found space through our defensive line, our first 20 was pretty terrible," Bulldogs coach Matt McRobert said.
"But then, the same as we had last year, this team gets a lot of energy from good defensive efforts and we did that. We talk about attacking without the ball and once we had a play on the 20 metre mark where we just defended, we moved up the field without the ball, after that the points started to flow, so that was really satisfying.
"That second half we controlled possession really well, Forbes had very little ball and what they did have, our guys tackled really well.
Forbes number 8 Matt Coles, who was superb throughout Saturday's third-round match, set the tone early as he steamrolled straight over the top of a Bulldogs defender and carried the ball inside the 22 before being dragged down.
Centres Ben Maguire and Ethan Gaffney also punched holes in Bulldogs' defensive line and while Bathurst's scrambling defence shutdown several dangerous looking movements, it eventually cracked.
It was Coles that forced his way over and with Taylor Krause's conversion it was 7-0 to Forbes after 17 minutes.
Forbes continued to make good yards up the middle of the ruck and missed a penalty goal attempt soon after, but as the clock ticked towards half-time momentum swung.
Having defended grimly to stop a second Platypi try, Bulldogs managed a counter-punch when creating space on the left wing for Ben Sheppeard to score.
Then a Will Oldham charge-down led to a second try, the ball sticking in the centre's hands and he ran away to score between the sticks. He slotted the conversion to make it 14-7 at the break.
Two minutes after play resumed a lovely inside ball from rugby league convert Taumutu Nohotima put Phil Tonkin over between the sticks and five minutes later Oldham nailed a penalty goal to make it 24-7.
The effort was still there from the Platypi - they won a scrum against the feed deep in Bulldogs territory and shortly after from a midfield scrum, a bullocking run saw Maguire over.
But from the kick-off Forbes knocked-on and Bulldogs attacked.
Tom Felsch scored after a rolling maul off a line-out, then Scott Johnston sliced through Forbes' defence and released speedster Riley Hanrahan to add another.
The bonus-point win was iced just over five minutes out from time when Nohotima drove hard and low over the line.
"Discipline really," McRobert said of what he asked of his players during the half-time break.
"That was it. We kicked well too, we used the sun, kicked high into the sun and got a couple of unforced errors there which is fortunate. But that's what we wanted to do, keep the ball down there, keep it behind our forward pack and just work."
- BATHURST BULLDOGS 49 (William Oldham, Phillip Tonkin, Benjamin Sheppeard, Thomas Felsch, Riley Hanrahan, Taumutu Nohotima tries; Will Oldham 2 penalties; Will Oldham 3, Ben Sheppeard conversions) defeated FORBES PLATYPI 14 (Matt Coles, Ben Maguire tries; Taylor Krause 2 conversions)