The UNSW-ES Bulldogs Premier Division’s spirits have been buoyed by the realisation that they will have a second chance to make it further in the finals next week after going down by 50 points to the North Shore Bombers.
The Bombers cruised to victory in the qualifying final at Blacktown International Sports Park as they nearly doubled the Dogs’ score with 106 (15.16) points to 56 (8.8).
However, after finishing second in the main season, the Bulldogs have earned the opportunity to make up for this week’s mistakes in a knockout semi final against the Pennant Hills Demons next week. The winner of which will play in a preliminary final against either Sydney University or North Shore.
Post-game, player/coach Steven Pollock was noticeably calmer than previous weeks and urged his team to get back on the horse having justified receiving their second chance in the regular season.
But he did remind the players that complacency and a lack of effort were things he would not tolerate. Pollock signalling that there would be some “surprise” changes to the squad and advocated for players to spend more time in the gym as well as training in the week leading up to their knockout match.
Earlier, the Dogs came up second best in what was a significantly physical game despite ending the first quarter with a slight lead.
Bulldogs captain, Jack McAnespie, said that his team “just got beaten up”.
“It’s different when you get beat up and you get blokes punching you and you just have to take it in your stride [sic],” McAnespie said. “We took far too long to realise that and to act on it.”
“[The Bombers] wrestled the momentum away from us and by the end it fell away; our intensity and the hardness around the ball.”
McAnespie also singled out a lack of focus in the side, but said it was a consequence of getting beaten up and the young nature of the team.
“It’s just natural that [younger players] look ahead and aren’t completely focused on the task at hand and finals football is a lot different from regular season games, where you can sort of warm up and warm into it. Finals you have to be on it from the start.”
Pollock agreed with McAnespie and said that several aspects from skills under pressure to overuse of the ball stemmed from this issue, though he remained confident for the week ahead.
“Whoever we play it will be a good contest,” Pollock said. “The result will take care of itself if the boys come to play because we actually have the ability to play some very good football so we will wait and see what happens next week.”
Next week’s semi-final is to be played at Blacktown International Sports Park at 2:10 pm on Sunday and also marks the return of co-captain Jeremy Daniher. Entry to the ground is $10.
Goal Kickers: J. Hardman 2, J. McLean 2, S. Pollock, D. Cordell, T. Banuelos, J. Robbie
Best Players: T. Banuelos, J. McLean, M. Thompson, D. Cordell, N. Reinhard, M. Lower
NORTH SHORE BOMBERS
Goal Kickers: H. Carr 6, A. McConnell 2, L. Smailes 2, J. Campbell, S. Barkley, K. Latham, W. Bradley, L. Hayres
Best Players: S. Barkley, H. Carr, J. McKenzie, W. Bradley, A. McConnell, H. MacDonald