The Bulldogs allowed themselves a moment to saviour their first minor premiership since re-entering the competition 15 years ago, following their win over the Nomads on Saturday, but only a moment.
The Bulldogs are one win away from booking an AFL North West grand final appearance, and, as their player-coach Greg Piggott has said, the “hard work” starts now.
Gunnedah, a club that suffered years of lopsided scorelines, beat five-time reigning premiers New England by 32 points in Armidale on Saturday in the competition’s penultimate round.
The final scoreline was 19.10 (124) to 14.8 (92). It was only in the final quarter that Gunnedah skipped away, with Mitchell Swain and Jake Spackman kicking six and five goals respectively for the match.
Piggott, at the helm for two seasons, said: “It’s huge for the club, especially the guys who have played a lot of footy [for Gunnedah] - Andrew George, Scott Hardy, John Woolaston, Ryan Cooper, Andrew Mack, James Mack, Alistair Hillard and Matt Pengilly.
“Those blokes have played a long time without any real success. It means a great deal to those blokes – what they’ve done. It’s good to give them a taste for it, because they definitely deserve it.”
It was Gunnedah’s second win in a row over New England and, Piggott said, their first in Armidale in “six or seven year”. They have won 12 straight since losing to the Nomads in round one.
The Bulldogs play Moree and the Nomads play the Kangaroos in the final round, before the competition’s two best sides meet in the major semi-final in Gunnedah in a fortnight.
Piggott expects the Nomads to be a different proposition in the finals given their post-season pedigree.
“The most pleasing aspect of the minor premiership is we get to play a home finals,” he said. “It give us a little bit of an advantage.
“But like I said, whenever you play this mob you’ve got to play your best footy to beat them. You don’t win five premierships in a row without being the best team in the comp.
“We’ve won the minor premiership but there is a lot of hard work to be done. This is the start of the hard work.”
Piggott said Gunnedah skipper George played one of his best games of the season on Saturday.