THIEF: Bulldogs captain-coach James Aubusson scored under the black dot with a minute remaining, handing the home side an unlikely 26-24 win. Photo: Joe Medway MATCH TURNER: Winger Tim Turner was too strong for Magpies opponent Dwayne Connors
Dogs pinch win, keep top four in reach.
A SECOND-half fight back and two dummy-half tries in the latter stages of Sunday’s showdown with Yass resuscitated the Bulldogs’ semi-final dream.
Arch-rivals the Yass Magpies had Goulburn on its collective backside during Sunday’s spirited exchange at Workers Arena.
To the relief of home supporters, the Dogs climbed to their feet and pinched two tries in the final six minutes to steal an unlikely – and perhaps undeserved – 26-24 victory.
Coach James Aubusson, hindered slightly by injury, produced the goods at the pivotal moment, barging over from close range on two occasions in the twilight of the game.
His late four-pointers, both converted by fullback Nathan Williams, left the opposition devastated and the Bulldogs firmly in the semi-final race.
After a shaky start to the season that included four losses in five matches, Goulburn now sits just one win outside the top four and has an opportunity to bridge the gap against the Queanbeyan Blues this weekend.
They’ll need to be substantially better, however, to trouble the 2011 grand finalists.
Mick Dodson was a standout for the Bulldogs all match, busting the Magpies defence through the middle with ease. The team’s performance as a whole, on the other hand, was indifferent.
Although Aubusson came up with two match-winning tries, he had a poor afternoon by his standards.
The former Roosters rake gave away four penalties, threw a forward pass and knocked-on from dummy-half during a flawed opening 60 minutes.
He rectified his errors in the best possible fashion – by winning the game.
Aubusson was proud of his team’s ability to overturn a 14- point half-time deficit and credited their never-say-die attitude as the basis for victory.
“We copped an absolute hiding in the fast half. We’ve only played once in the last four weeks,” he said.
“We didn’t speak about it as such at half-time, but we knew if we stayed with them, we’d catch them. It’s very satisfying to know that if you stick to the game plan – we exploited them around the ruck – things will work out.”
The coach was particularly impressed with back-rower York, a player he likens to Glenn Stewart, and relentless prop Rob McCarthy.
“I don’t normally compare country footballers to those in Sydney, but I’ve got to say we’re lucky to have Daniel York out there,” he said.
“He’s not one of those meatheads who just chugs it forward, he’s good on his feet and has really good skills. He threw that lovely cut-out ball for Tim Turner’s try.”
While McCarthy’s not blessed with the same skills, he possesses a big heart. The prop pulled off some telling tackles throughout and was on-hand to snatch a clever restart from winger Brad Hewitt with the score 24-14 in the visitors’ favour.
The scenes of celebration postmatch contrasted the mood of spectators an hour earlier.
Yass threatened to gap their rivals with a free-flowing brand of football in the first half. The Magpies butchered three tries and squandered chances to apply further pressure on their hosts – who looked incapable of scoring for much of the opening stanza.
Only Hewitt, who cashed in on a Yass error in-goal, managed to secure points for Goulburn, who went to sheds trailing 18-4.
Two new-look teams emerged from underneath the Gavin Miller Stand 10 minutes later.
Goulburn began swiftly and cleanly after the break, while the Magpies failed to complete their first four sets and incurred three penalties in the opening five minutes. York revived the home team’s chances with a try under the sticks after a slick backline move down the left side.
When left winger Turner showed courage to score down the same edge 10 minutes later, the match was in the balance.
The Magpies resisted a wave of Bulldogs possession and appeared certainties to take the competition points when Tony McLean notched his team’s fourth try at the 70 minute mark.
Yass was caught napping from the ensuing the kick-off and a tricky Brad Hewitt restart was regathered by McCarthy. It was a match-turning – and perhaps season- defining – moment.
Aubusson scored twice, Williams converted both, and the Dogs skipped away with the game.
Goulburn Workers Bulldogs 26 [J Aubusson 2, B Hewitt, D York, T Turner tries] defeated Yass Magpies 24
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