North Coast Bulldogs defy odds to earn spot in state finals
RUGBY LEAGUE: Coming up against an unbeaten side littered with Australian Jillaroo players, the North Coast Bulldogs squad could be forgiven for having a few nerves ahead of their semi-final showdown against the Illarawarra South Coast Dragons.
However, according to South Grafton's Mishika Randall, it was just another game.
The Bulldogs team, that was originally only meant to make up numbers in the inaugural Women's Country Rugby League Championship, pulled off a stunning upset, downing the favourites to take out the entire competition with a 24-6 win to set up a grand final against Riverina Bulls at Mudgee on Saturday.
"We just took the game as we would any other game, nothing went to our heads we just took it as a normal game.
"The attitude we had in that game was the same we had for all of our others games, which worked in our favour. It was excellent to have that win over the superstars, it really was exciting," Randall said.
It's that attitude Randall said would help the girls in their clash against the Bulls.
"We've bonded really well over the entire competition, and the attitude we had last weekend was great," she said.
"We kept cool and calm, we stuck to our game plan, and I think we took them by surprise. I don't think anyone expected us to make it this far, which was to our advantage.
"If we can play like we did last weekend, I'm confident we can win."
Randall was also joined by fellow South Grafton Rebels players Shellie Long and Karri Williams, who are both excited to take part in this weekend's grand final.
"I think we just need to take things one step at a time and really focus on our defence, because that was what probably won us the game over the Dragons," Long said.
"We will take a lot of confidence from that win, especially because there were so many great players like (Women's Dally M Medal winner) Kezie Apps in that side. Coming up against people that had been playing and training at that level was a bit nerve-wracking but once the game started I was glad to be able to put that aside.
"We've had great support from the community, and the Rebels, which has helped us a lot so we will hopefully do them all proud."
Williams was injured for the match and was forced to watch from the sidelines, but said she would recover from some foot ligament damage in time to take to the field this Saturday.
"I don't think many of us expected to win but it gives us a lot of confidence that we can go out there, do our job and get the win," Williams said.
"The nerves haven't hit yet, but they might start a little closer to the game.
"The belief is high in the squad at the moment so hopefully we can go one further and win."
The Bulldogs squad includes players from the Coffs Harbour Comets, Sawtell Panthers, South Grafton Rebels and Bellingen Valley Dorrigo Magpies.
"It's the first time for the female Country Championships, so it's pretty awesome to be through to the final," Bulldogs coach Glenn Bampton said.
"The girls in this team have conducted themselves in a truly professional manner and it's a credit to them."