It had to end at some stage, but Kurri Kurri wasn’t quite ready yet.
After six straight wins and a fairytale run into the finals, last year’s wooden spooners have fallen an agonising one game short of the Newcastle Rugby League decider.
The Bulldogs went down 38-16 to Lakes in Sunday’s preliminary final at Townson Oval after trailling by just two points at half-time.
“We thought at half-time we were close enough, but we probably played the wrong style of football after that,” Kurri coach Ron Griffiths said. “Full credit to them [Lakes], their defence stymied what we’re about. It was just one of those days.
“We’ve been up for seven weeks as a group and we haven’t faltered. I’m really proud of where they’ve come from to where they are now.”
Already without injured props Mick Campton and Kahn Junkie, as well as dynamic fullback Kade Hardy, the Bulldogs were forced to re-shuffle again for the sudden-death encounter with second-rower Brady Hammond and centre Tyme Dow-Nikau both ruled out on game eve after failing fitness tests.
Halfback Jarom Haines was impressive for Kurri.
“He’s all class and he’ll be better for the run because he’s only 21 years old,” Griffiths said.