Bathurst Bulldogs coach Nathan Pearce refused to blame halfback and goalkicker Brad Glasson for his side’s Blowes Clothing Cup season coming to an end after the scrumhalf missed a late penalty in Saturday’s preliminary final at Forbes.
In fact, he actually missed two late shots at three-pointers.
In hindsight those wayward attempts look supremely costly considering the Platypi ended up winning 20-18 and earning a crack at Orange Emus in the grand final, for the second consecutive year.
But as Pearce said, Bulldogs had their chances to put the game to bed after leading 8-0 early and then 15-10 at half-time, so to suggest the game was lost just in those two moments would be naive.
“With that wind it was a tough shot. It was always a tough shot,” Pearce said of Glasson’s second miss, which came just minutes from full-time from about 25 out and 10 in from touch.
“We had actually debated whether or not to give him the pressure but he’s been great (all season).
“He’s had a a real breakout year and is a genuine first grade footballer at 20.
“He’s been one of our standouts but we’ve had a team of standouts.”
The clash between the Platypi and Bulldogs at Forbes’Grinsted Oval had everything.
There was passages of running rugby and there was times where it was phase after phase of tough, froward-driven play.
There was yellow cards, sledges, some push-and-shove and ultimately a result which wasn’t certain until the very final moments – everything you could have asked for in a grand final qualifier.
The lead swung back and forth in the second half as Glasson and Forbes’ Nedd Brockmann traded penalties.
Glasson put Bulldogs 18-17 in front with about 15 minutes to go, but Brockmann won the lead back from Forbes four minutes later.
Glasson had his first chance to win that lead back, missed, and then Brockmann was sin-binned four minutes from full-time for a professional foul, handing Bulldogs a penalty within Glasson’s range.
But the young No.9, who had kicked beautifully all day and was superb outside that as well, hooked his shot from just right of the uprights, in the breezy conditions.
From there the Platypi hung on to win 20-18 and advance to a much-anticipated grand final rematch against Orange Emus.
Despite Pearce feeling it was one of his side’s best performances of the season, there was clear disappointment in the camp while the Forbes fans rejoiced after sealing a second straight grand final berth.
The Platypi weren’t at their best for much of the match but when the pressure was on there was no panic and eventually the patient approach paid off.
“We made it pretty hard for ourselves,” Forbes skipper Jack Hammond said after the gruelling encounter.
“It shouldn’t have been that hard but success doesn’t come easy.
“Now we’ve got one more week so we’ve got to regroup and then head to Orange.”
It wasn’t looking good for the hosts early when Bulldogs silenced a raucous home crowd by scoring through centre Harry Webber.
Brockmann missed an early penalty before Glasson nailed one to make it 8-0 but then poor discipline from Bathurst and a string of penalties resulted in five-eighth Scott Johnston being shown yellow.
Forbes capitalised with the extra man, scoring through Mahe Fangupo and Matt Coles to lead 10-8 but right before the break Bathurst scored against the run of play through winger Riley Hanrahan to ensure the visitors went into the sheds in front.
Seven minutes into the second stanza Forbes retook the lead when hooker Jarrod Hall muscled across before the battle between Brockmann and Glasson took over the game.
A Glasson penalty put his side up 18-17 but then Brockmann got Forbes’ nose in front late in the piece.
The fullback went from hero to zero following his tackle off the ball after Bathurst had broken away after an intercept.
But Glasson couldn’t make the most of the golden chance, and Hammond said it satisfying to be through to the decider after being the second-best side for the bulk of the season.
Just like last year’s decider and this year’s major semi-final, it’s Orange Emus against Forbes at Endeavour Oval and the Platypi and a huge load of support will be making the trip.
“The mood is pretty good. All we wanted to do was think about this week, not the next one, because if we didn’t win this we wouldn’t be there and now we’ve got there we need to knuckle down and look at what went wrong last time and build from that,” Hammond said.
“We’re a small community against these bigger towns and we’re really giving it to them so the more support the better.”
- FORBES PLATYPI 20 (Mahe Fangupo, Matt Coles, Jarrod Hall tries; Brockmann conv, penalty) def BATHURST BULLDOGS 18 (Harry Webber, Riley Hanrahan tries; Glasson conv, 2 penalties)