WHEN Bathurst Bulldogs coach Nathan Pearce got the news a broken leg had ruled out star centre Sam Roberson indefinitely, he was concerned about the impact it would have on his side.
But any fears he held were gone by the time the final whistle sounded at Ashwood Park on Saturday afternoon in Bulldogs’ Blowes Clothing Cup match against Cowra.
Not only did Bulldogs secure a bonus point win, but Roberson’s replacement Adam Miles impressed.
“Adam Miles at 12, I can’t speak highly enough of him. That’s his first game at 12 ever, stick him in first grade and he’s just been outstanding, I couldn’t be happier,” Pearce said.
While Miles has played at flyhalf, fullback, outside centre and on the wing in his years with the Bathurst club, his latest role provided new challenges.
Pearce spoke to him before the match to try and settle his nerves. The words of advice clearly worked.
“I spoke to him before the game and said ‘Twelve is not anywhere else you’ve played, it’s 150 jobs rather than the 30 you are doing at fullback. You are going to stuff some up, but be happy with it, get up and do the next one’,” Pearce said.
“He’s just nailed it, so that’s a real, real pressure off because I was nervous about losing Sam.
“We certainly didn’t have that penetration Sam provides there, but what Adam lacks in penetration, he certainly made up for it.
“His defence was outstanding, and his subtlety with the ball is better than Sam’s. He did very well.
“They were big shoes to fill and he did well.”
Miles was not the only Bulldog to impress in the 27-8 win over Cowra. Number 8 Peter Fitzsimmons scored three tries as he returned from suspension and the forward pack muscled up well against the Eagles.
But perhaps what pleased Pearce the most was how long his Bulldogs sustained their effort.
“For the first time this year I think we can say we played 60 consistent minutes, that’s the best we’ve done thus far,” he said.
“That’s the incremental improvement we’re going to need.”