Derby City traveled away to Birmingham Bulldogs for the opening fixture in the MRL U16 boys competition.
From the kick off it was evident that some of the early season training had had the desired effect with the team showing good structure around the ruck area with numbers in the tackle which kept the Bulldogs from making much ground. Derby City then struck with a try and conversion from the captain Eric Gilliver. This was quickly followed by a storming run from Loz who went crashing over the line to notch up his first try of the campaign which was converted by Eric Gilliver. Derby were now beginning to settle into this match and had the confidence to start to move the ball wide through the hands. In a sweeping move the ball was whisked from the centre of the pitch through three sets of hands to send Dan Shaw scorching in at the corner. Following another controlled set of five plays a high kick on the sixth deep into Bulldogs territory was chased by the Derby backs which saw the defence fumble only for Dan Shaw to pounce on the ball over the line. Derby City were denied another try in the corner from Callum Hunter who was adjudged to have taken a forward pass with the referee blowing up just as the ball was grounded. The Bulldogs were not to be outdone and kept in touch with two unconverted tries in the first half which saw the teams go in at half time with Derby City leading 20-8.
The second half saw Derby conceding an early try which seemed to give the Bulldogs a boost. With Derby now playing up the hill in the second half and down to the bare 13 on the pitch due to an injury to Charlie O’Mara in the first half it was the Bulldogs who lifted the tempo and started to put pressure on a tiring Derby side.
However Derby were determined to keep in front and another sweeping move resulted in Dan Shaw scoring his third try of the day by outpacing the defence wide on the right to score under the posts with a conversion by Eric Gilliver. This spurred the Bulldogs on once more and with some strong running from their backs attacking the Derby City wide defence they crossed the line to keep in touch on the scoreboard. The Bulldogs scored again following sustained pressure on the Derby City line. It was now end to end stuff with both teams going full out to win the match. Derby struck first with Ben Hext running a great inside line to outwit the Bulldogs defence which took the score Derby 30 - Bulldogs 18. With 10 minutes remaining on the clock the Bulldogs were determined to fight to the end and they scored again with some strong running. The quickly followed up with another try taking the score to 30 points all with minutes left on the clock. With the tank now running on empty Derby City mounted two final assaults on the Bulldogs line but were unable to cross the whitewash.
A good start to the season for Derby City and the efforts of the all the players must be applauded. A special mention to debutants to rugby league, Daniel Archer and ben woods who performed extremely well in their first outing. Congratulations to Dan Shaw on scoring a hat-trick on the opening game of the season.
Derby City would like to thank Birmingham Bulldogs as hosts and congratulate them on their part in an exciting opening game of the season.