The under 19s UNSW/ES Bulldogs took on the St George Dragons in a battle for a grand final spot.
On a beautiful spring day, both teams were ferocious. It was a low scoring first half with neither team really able to get much ascendency. Both tackled hard and could not hang onto the ball for large periods of the match.
As it went to the main break, the scores were level. The real game was about to begin.
There was a bit of a scrap early on, as both teams tried to get a psychological edge on their opponents. Fortunately, they went harder at the ball than each other with possession hard to maintain.
The first few minutes were dominated by St. George, getting a hold of the ball but not being effective enough with it. In a period of 8 minutes they had scored 1.4 which could have been much worse for the Bulldogs. To the credit, the Bulldogs fought back having the same dominant possession but not being able to get much for it. What helped was a bit of ill-discipline by St George throughout the quarter as they gave away free kicks with scraps or late hits. Just when the Bulldogs looked like they were coming back, the Dragons would get a goal back against the run of play.
The Bulldogs were going to need a big lift to secure a grand final appearance three goals down at the last change. Knowing this, they were quick with ball movement, trying to outrun the Dragons and find some leads.
Within the first few minutes, the Bulldogs were challenging but three behinds allowed the Dragons a bit of leeway. The Bulldogs eventually converted to leave the margin at only 8 points.
What became common in this last quarter however, was a Dragons quick reply after a Bulldogs goal. It occurred a couple of times and ruined the Bulldogs’ momentum. The Dragons closed the game out with the last couple of goals to get themselves’ into the grand final.
Coach Steve Chichester was proud of the side after the match, acknowledging the effort the young Dogs had put in.
“[The Dragons} are a very skilful side,” said Chichester. “We tried to move the ball forward too quickly… and they were getting too many numbers back. We battled hard but couldn’t match their skill and run”
Whilst the boys fell one agonising game short of the Grand Final, Chichester was vocal in his support of the squad, indicating they got the best out of themselves this season.
“They boys have formed a very strong bond. They’re a good bunch of kids who enjoy their footy,” said Chichester.
“[Of course we’d] love to have climbed one step further and win it but at the end of the day they did well to get there. The most important thing is they are part of the club now.”
|St George Dragons||1.1-7||3.4-22||6.9-45||12.10-82|
|UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs||3.0-18||3.4-22||4.4-28||6.8-44|
ST GEORGE DRAGONS
Goal Kickers: E. Maher 2, L. Bognar 2, J. Smyth 2, K. Ayres, M. Watson, J. Hall, H. Hunt, W. Mudge, C. Flanagan
Best Players: D. Soffe, J. Hall, K. Ayres, C. Flanagan, K. McKellar, L. Sansom
UNSW EASTERN SUBURBS BULLDOGS
Goal Kickers: J. Pawle 2, C. Kilpatrick 2, H. Lewis, L. Hoy
Best Players: H. Lewis, L. Johnson, J. Hennessy, J. Pawle, J. Sorenson, C. Kilpatrick
Photo Credit: Paul Carter