The Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs will bank on their under 18s in this week’s Group 16 grand final.
The Bullpups have gone through the season undefeated and will look to cap off a flawless year when they meet the Bay Tigers in the ultimate showdown.
The club was one of the strongest contender to have multiple entries in the Group’s headline showcase, but suffered a shattering finish to the year in reserves and first grade at the preliminary final in Moruya on Sunday.
Bombala will be the only club with two teams contesting as seven separate league clubs enter contenders for a shot at premiership glory.
It was the Bombala club ejecting the first grade Bulldogs from the title chase in a hard-fought clash on Sharks’ territory with the mountain-men coming away with the result 16-12.
The Bulldogs took command of the game early to lead 12-0, but could capitulated on possession in the later half as the Blue Heelers fought back into play late in the first half.
Despite not being able to find much attacking pressure, the Bulldogs kept up a valiant defence throughout the contest with some bone-crunching hits until the final siren.
A spokeswoman for the club said Liam Beazley had his performance of the year with exceptional displays in both attack and defence with some scything edge runs and good tackling in defence.
Zac Mikula also received praise for his ever-present threat with the ball.
The Bulldogs were hampered by some solid plays around the flanks by the Blue Heelers, while their fullback Bailey Jones provided some slick plays and fast movement with the ball.
In the reserve grade fixture, no one could take anything away from the Bull Ants, who were simply outmatched by the premiership favourites in a 34-22 scoreline.
Only one team was able to mar the Panthers’ record during the season and the Bull Ants came close to upsetting the minor premiers.
Blake Dansey had some strong carries, while Aiden Aitken was impressive out of the halves.
Michael Motbey was the standout for the Panthers with some decisive flanking runs netting him a pair of tries.
Officials said despite the finish, it had been a strong year for the Bulldogs as a whole with strong performances across all four senior grades.
The club will now look to their 18s to cap the year off on a high with a flawless record.
The Bullpups have been all but untouchable with a highly structured attack and some classy plays outstripping all their rivals.
The ‘Pups have already dispatched with Batemans Bay 24-8 in the major semi and will look to emulate that result when the two clubs meet again on Sunday.
The Bulldogs 18s will face the Bay Tigers at the Bega Recreation Ground from 11am.