After starting the Blowes Clothing Cup with a seven-game winning streak, Bathurst Bulldogs’ undefeated run came to an end at home on Saturday.
The Bulldogs were handed their first defeat of the 2017 season by Forbes, the same side which ended Bathurst’s fairytale finals run last season.
Forbes managed a tough, 10-point win at Ashwood Park, coming from behind to do so.
Bulldogs led 17-9 at half-time, before two second-half tries saw the visitors claim at 27-17 win.
“It was a hard game. It was a game we needed to have,” Bulldogs co-coach Nathan Pearce said.
“We’ve certainly have seen what we need to work on. It’s probably a good cause to action for the boys, in terms of a couple of things we’ve been getting away with.
“It’s going to make things difficult against [Orange] Emus.
“There’s a few things we need to work on but it’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. It’s a contest and we didn’t do the smart stuff today.”
Henry Willis opened the scoring for Forbes in the first-half, slotting a penalty goal to give the visitors an early 3-0 lead.
Minutes later, Willis landed another penalty to extend that lead to six.
Brad Glasson nailed a penalty for Bulldogs before Adam Geal broke through the right-hand side of Forbes’ defence and came around and scored under the posts.
The conversion was successful and Bathurst led 10-6.
Another Willis penalty was cancelled out by a Scott Johnston try. Once again, Bulldogs scored through Forbes’ right-hand side.
Forbes won the grind early in the second half and Jarrod Hall went over as a result.
Willis nailed another penalty 15 minutes from time to edge the visitors ahead 19-17.
After being denied two try-scoring opportunities, Nedd Brockmann scored in the corner to give Forbes a 24-17 lead.
Willis was unsuccessful with the boot but Forbes’ Cameron Bennett kicked a late field goal to make it a two-score lead, and ultimately seal the victory.
While Bulldogs were defensively sound in the first half, they dropped off in the second, opening up under pressure.
Pearce said there is plenty to work on in the coming fortnight.
“We turned away a lot of ball at the breakdown. Making sure that support arrived at the breakdown at the same time as the breakdown starts,” he said.
“The ball carriers are just getting away from the support players. That’s certainty one part of it.
“Our lineout was a bit ineffective today, both defending and attacking.
“We’ve been able to get some pressure on the defensive lineout, but today weren’t. Their lineout was top shelf.
“Our scrum was good. I think we need to start using it more as a weapon.
“We’ll get another really good gauge on where we’re at against Emus. Hopefully we can give them something to think about too.”
All Blowes Clothing Cup teams will enjoy a week off due to a general bye for the long weekend.
Bathurst Bulldogs will host ladder leaders Orange Emus at Ashwood Park on June 17.