A blistering start in attack and a clinical second half defensive effort helped Bathurst Bulldogs seal a Blowes Clothing Cup third grade grand final berth on Saturday.
Bathurst shot out to a 17-0 lead early and that proved too much for Orange Emus come back from.
But the match, which finished 27-7, was overshadowed by a neck injury to Emus’ Pete Roberts which seemed incredibly serious at first.
Roberts went down just before half time and was immobile for close to half an hour, resulting in the second half of the contest being moved to an adjacent field.
Roberts, noticeably in pain, was transported from the ground in an ambulance but word got back to the ground shortly after that he had been given the all clear.
While the location of the game changed, the complexion didn’t in the second half as Bulldogs controlled proceedings and won through to a grand final date with Orange City.
“You always feel relieved once that whistle goes and you’re in front,” Bulldogs coach Ash Goninan said.
“Like always, Emus made it a really tough game and the second half was a bit unstructured after the injury.
“The positive was we kept the opposition to zero in the second half and we’ve still got a few things to work on against Orange City but we’re there and anything can happen.”
Goninan agreed the win was set up early, when Steve Locke, Dylan Carter and Nathan Pearce all crossed.
“I think the key to our game is the start. A good start goes a long way to setting the platform for the rest of the game.”