The sun blazed down on the hills of Halifax. It could have been Honolulu. Summer rugby is great providing you are not the one having to run around.
The Bulldogs started well once again. Just as starting slowly was a habit we had at the beginning of the season we now seem to have developed a habit of starting strongly. Tries from Tyler Dupree
, Jake Turner Phillip Tatterstall
with a conversion from Eli Dow
saw the Bulldogs take a 14-0 lead inside the first fifteen minutes. However, just as starting the game strongly has become a habit so has letting the opposition back into the game.
The game then entered something of a messy phase which saw both teams making a succession of errors and set completion rates falling as both sides struggled to get anywhere near completing a set. As the error count increased the boys lost there way a bit and lost sight of the game plan that had served them well for the first 15 minutes. This allowed Newsome to register their first points of the game with a converted try. The try was a timely reminder that if you are not quite on your game in this division you get punished. Similarly if you panic which we did on a few occasions and make the wrong decisions you get punished. It's a competitive league with little between the teams at the top and bottom. As soon as standards drop points are conceded.
That said and to their credit the boys rallied and a further two tries followed. The first from opposition Man of the Match Phillip Tatterstall
and a second of the day from Dupree both converted by Keelan Foster
. The next score went to Newsome who continued to be fiercely competitive before Top Tackler James Ainley
went over for the final try converted again by Foster. Ainley , Jacob Tansey
, Alex MacFarlane
and others are starting to reach the consistently high level of performance we will need to compete at the highest level.
All in all a good days work in soaring temperatures. As always there is work to be done on the training pitch. We still have a habit too often of running across taking team mates out of the game and we do have a habit of panicking occasionally when we just need to calm things down. Its important that the boys realise they don't have to and we don't expect them to score with every play of the ball! Sometimes we have to play the long game, turning the screw by running the big men in and tiring the opposition. With our size and strength we will grind the opposition down and gaps will start to appear. Sometimes we need just a little more patience.
We now have a strong looking squad with plenty of depth which gives the coaches plenty of options. We are looking for and getting towards a strong bench which means we can interchange without weakening the strength of the team unduly. It is important that the boys not starting a game continue to work hard and impress when given the opportunity. That certainly was the case yesterday with Daniel Molloy
and Keenan Ramsden
looking particularly impressive when they come on. It is a squad game and it's the 17 or so players that win games for us not 13. The 13 who are given the opportunity to start are now starting to realise if they do not put the effort in or do not do what they have been asked to do in training there is somebody who wants their shirt who just might. Then it's up to them to work hard and fight for their place back. Sometimes it's also important to point out that we don't always take boys off because they have played badly or done something wrong. Sometimes we take them off because they have worked incredibly hard and need a bit of a break! Giving the forwards a bit of a breather and a chance to get some fluids on board is a normal part of the game that the boys will have to get used to.
The priority now with the interchanges we make is to maximise our chance of winning the game. We are in something of a transitional period in that being top of a competitive division rather than playing non- competitive games means on occasion winning the game takes priority over making sure everybody gets equal game time although as I have said before it will be a long season and everybody will have a significant contribution to make.
Onwards and upwards. Still top of the league and with the recent new recruits bedding in nicely things are looking good. One if those new recruits Brandon St Catherine picked up his first Man if the Match award in only his second game with a strong pacy and brave performance. Runner up was Eli Dow
who pushed Brandon very close with a good display from full back.
Next up is a friendly against near neighbours King Cross Park which should give us the opportunity to give those who haven't played much recently time on the pitch. More details will follow.
MOM Brandon St Catherine 30 points
Runner Up Eli Dow
Top Tackler James Ainley
Opposition Man of the Match Philip Taterstall