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Unbeaten Gulgong in Clayton Cup conversation

Gulgong Rugby League Club is celebrating their Centenary Year in style after the Bull Terriers secured the Castlereagh League Minor Premiership on Saturday.

Playing the visiting Cobar Roosters at Billy Dunn Oval in the 14th and final round of the 2023 competition, the Terriers won 36-24 to maintain their unbeaten record.

In such a significant year for Gulgong, more history could be in the offing, with the Terriers staring down their best opportunity at winning a premiership since 2015.

Additionally, the small club, based in a town of fewer than 3000 people, has been brought up in Clayton Cup discussions, which has stunned President and coach Brad James.

“To be honest, it’s not something I had even thought of until someone tagged me in something on Facebook last week, and there was a discussion there about Gulgong being undefeated and the Castlereagh League having Group status,” James said.

“I was like, ‘Wow, this can’t be real’, and being from Wagga, I knew about the Clayton Cup, but not once had it crossed my mind that we would be in discussions.

“It’s incredible that a small country town like Gulgong could potentially go undefeated and even be mentioned in Clayton Cup talks alongside those big clubs.

All photos courtesy of Col Boyd Photography
All photos courtesy of Col Boyd Photography

“It’s huge, and not just for the club, but the town, sponsors, past players, and everyone ever involved with the Terriers.”

The Clayton Cup is a trophy awarded to the NSWRL country-based team with the best overall record for that season. As it stands, Gulgong is the last remaining undefeated team in any NSWRL Group competition.

However, James admitted that his Terriers still have a bit to do if they want to write their names in the NSWRL history books, with the Castlereagh League finals ahead of them.

“We’ve won nothing yet, and we just have to reset and focus on the semi-finals,” James said.

“Everything we have done up until now means nothing, and as a coach, I just need to make sure the boys have the right mindset and that we go to that extra level.”

Gulgong has earned this Saturday off while the Dunedoo Swans and Cobar Roosters do battle in the Major Semi-final at Robertson Park, while the Narromine Jets will host the Coonabarabran Unicorns in their fight for survival in their Minor Semi-final at Cale Oval.

Playing at home, Gulgong will take on either Dunedoo or Cobar in the second week of finals for their place in the Grand Final.

“We have a week off this week, and we’ll get stuck in at training and just keep working hard,” James said.

“It’s all about the little things and keeping switched on.”

The unbeaten Bull Terriers are head and shoulders above their Castlereagh League rivals this season, scoring a competition-high 500 points from 13 games at an average of 38 points a game.

Their defence is the competition’s best, with the Terriers conceding just 190 points at just over 14 a game.

With such a dominant record, James was quizzed on his side’s success, and he said it came down to an attitude adjustment and building a winning culture.

“At the start of the year, we got together, set little goals, and jotted down where we wanted to be and where we wanted to get to,” James said.

“In previous years, we leaked a few points and could always score tries, but our defence wasn’t the best.

“We changed our mindset and based our game around defence because we know if we can hold the ball, points will come.

“Plus, we’ve got a better culture, and we’re working hard for one another.”

James believes the Terriers' success kicked off in their pre-season, with Gulgong playing trial games against Group 4 outfit Kootingal and Group 9 side Junee.

“It was a good standard of Rugby League to kick off our season,” James said.

“If you want to be that good, you need to play good teams, and we took a lot away from those games.”

Click here for all Castlereagh League results and tables.

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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