Fall at final Hurdle

CRASHING DOWN: Tim Turner (pictured with ball) thought he’d won the Bulldogs the match with a late field goal. Photo: Joe Medway. THRILLER: Shane McCallum has been a consistent metre-eater for the Bulldogs.
Nanjing Night Net

JUBILATION turned to heartbreak in the blink of an eye. An unlikely candidate in the form of Tim Turner seemed to have pulled off victory for the Goulburn Workers Bulldogs with a field goal in the dying stages of Sunday’s clash with the Bushrangers at Greenway.

Scenes of celebration quickly turned to despair for the visitors, who incurred a penalty from the ensuring kick-off and watched in anguish as Tuggeranong halfback Carl Johnson, in just his third firstgrade match, slotted a penalty.

The penalty, awarded when a player was taken out off the ball, gave the hosts a 20- 19 victory and is a kick in the guts to the Bulldogs’ semi-final aspirations. Skipper James Aubusson conceded it was a match his charges butchered.

“I think we played some pretty dumb footy, the game was there for us to win,” Aubusson said.

“We just lacked some football ability, we didn’t lack anything in toughness but we made dumb decisions, and it cost us the game. Our boys thought that was it when we kicked the field goal… it shouldn’t have come down to that moment.”

The defeat consigns the Bulldogs to sixth position on the Canberra Raiders Cup ladder and four points adrift of the semi-final cut-off zone. The Dogs last year lost six matches en route to a semi-final showdown with eventual premiers the Queanbeyan Kangaroos.

To date, they’ve lost five matches and drawn two. They can ill-afford another slipup in 2012.

In reality, Sunday’s fixture shouldn’t have ended with a slip-up.

Although the Bulldogs took the field without Aubusson, sidelined indefinitely with a bulging disc in his neck, winger Brad Hewitt and fullback Nathan Williams, they showed enough nous to very nearly score a win. Winger Tim Turner was very nearly the hero.

The sizeable finisher, not a noted in-play kicker, pushed in off his wing, demanded the ball and slotted a field goal as if he’d been doing for years.

Aubusson, watching anxiously from the sideline, thought his team had done enough. He hadn’t factored in a short kick-off and controversial penalty in front of the posts.

“Whether it was a penalty or not, I don’t know. It was a brave call,” the coach said.

“I’m going to sit here and blame the ref, it shouldn’t have come down to that. We should have been able to hang on for a set.”

The visitors were ripe for the taking prior to kick-off. They hadn’t played for three weeks, were without a core trio and contained a couple of new faces – the most prominent of which belonged to Aubusson’s younger brother, Nathan.

Fortunately, the latter stepped up to kicking duties and kept the Dogs in the contest with three accurate shots on goal. Tuggeranong scored early and had their guests chasing their tails for much of the match.

Aubusson paid his opponents the credit they were due.

“They’re a really gutsy team, they just hang on really well,” he said.

“We haven’t beaten them in the last two years. We probably should have won that one.”

The Bulldogs must wait an extra week before they can attempt to rectify Sunday’s shattering loss.

The Canberra Raiders Cup takes a back seat this weekend as representative fixtures come to the fore.

Mick Dodson again lines up for a Canberra Raiders Cup representative team against the best Newcastle and its surrounds has to offer at Seiffert Oval on Saturday.

The Dogs return to the paddock on July 8 in a must-win match with old sparring partners, Yass.

The Magpies are the surprise packet of this year’s competition, and sit in third position at present with six wins from nine starts.

The Bulldogs reserve grade outfit, meantime, continues to go from strength to strength.

Goulburn crushed the Bushrangers – touted a premiership contender – 30-12 at Greenway. The seconds’ win maintains their position at the top of the standings and reinforces their reputation as competition favourites.

Follow @LloydScroope

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