First-half woe shakes Gunnedah back to form

GUNNEDAH Bulldogs might have dug themselves out of a huge rugby league hole at Kitchener Park yesterday, not just in a 40-18 win over Oxley Diggers, but for a premiership launch.

The Shane Rampling-coached side had slumped in recent weeks, with disappointing losses to West Lions and North Tamworth.

That form was on display again in the first 40 minutes at Kitchener yesterday, the Dogs trailing 18-14 at halftime and in dire threat of handing Oxley Diggers their first first grade win.

Gunnedah coach Shane Rampling doesn’t mind admitting he was a concerned man heading into the sheds for halftime.

“I wasn’t happy,” he said last night.

Oxley Diggers are improving every week and, while they were getting 80 to 100 points on them earlier in the season, they are a lot better now.

“Yesterday they had the wind in the first half and used it well and played some good football.

“We just didn’t aim up in the first half,” Rampling said.

“I don’t think we completed one set, had no possession.

“At halftime I challenged them to keep them (Diggers) scoreless in the second half.

“We were a different side and played a lot better.

“Keeping them scoreless was a massive bonus for us.”

With hooker Ollie Neader and halfback Matt Brady leading the way, the Bulldogs started to find the form that had taken them  to second a month ago.

“Ollie started to run from dummy half and put them on the back foot,” Rampling said.

“And when Matty (Brady) goes, he can be untouchable.

“He’s getting better and better but needs the boys to follow him and play off him.”

Brady crossed for three tries as the Bulldogs started to hold on to their possession and create chances.

“They (Diggers) gave us a real tough game,” Rampling said. “They are getting better  and are close to a win. 

“I’m sure they will get a win before the end of the season.

“I’m just glad it wasn’t us.”

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