Gunnedah take on the Tamworth Kangaroos at Tamworth’s No.1 Oval on Saturday in a Round 10 Greater Bank AFL North West clash, with the Bulldogs looking to prove they can duplicate their formidable home form on the road.
While they beat the Kangaroos in round three by 131 points, the Bulldogs are expecting a much tougher assignment on Tamworth’s home deck.
Having lost the solitary match in the opening round of the competition, the Bulldogs have put together some emphatic victories since.
That includes knocking over premiership favourites and the previously undefeated New England Nomads.
They continued their run of hot form last weekend, when they thumped the Moree Suns by 175 points to kick-start their 40th anniversary celebrations that weekend.
Bulldogs coach Greg Piggott however is keeping his side’s feet on the ground.
“We’re expecting a physical game, and they’ll be a lot tougher than when we played them earlier in the year,” Piggott said.
He also highlighted the importance of consistency in the home and away season.
The Bulldogs have been dynamic at home but have one win and one loss away from Wolseley Oval.
“It’s important to stay ahead of the pack to keep touch with the Nomads,” he said. “They’re still the benchmark, and this weekend will show us more than any other game where we’re truly at as a side.”
Piggott believes the centre bounce will be crucial.
The Bulldogs like their chance in this area due to their formidable midfield.
Bulldog Al Hillard has been the standout ruckman of the competition, while the side's midfielders, including Jake Spackman, Ben Maher, Scott Hardy and Mark Barrow, have been prolific on the back of Hillard’s tap service.
Hardy, fresh from being named in the all-time best 22 side of the Bulldogs, will be a welcome addition back into the side following a rib complaint last week.
As will Barrow, who missed last week and has consistently been one of the Bulldogs best players this season.
Two rounds ago the Bulldogs recorded a significant victory with a nine-point defeat of the Nomads. They avenged a 59-point loss to the defending premiers in round one.
Since that loss, Gunnedah has not dropped a game – stringing together six consecutive wins. Those triumphs have included lopsided defeats of Moree (twice), the Kangaroos, the Swans and Inverell.
In the other match on Saturday, the Swans and the Saints meet in Inverell.