UNSW Bulldogs are a confidence team. After years on-top of the league, they have played with a ton of swagger for ages, and they carry an attitude which breeds success.
This is what makes them such a tough team to play against.
Naturally, matching this would be our challenge in Round 5, as the East Coast Prems Men side clashed with the Bulldogs at Kanebridge Oval in Saturday Night Footy.
After a day which saw our Under 19s and Reserves boys struggle to keep with UNSW, our Prems side were keen to make amends, and bring a fight to the Doggies like they’d never seen before. We were coming off a disappointing result against Inner Wests, so we had plenty to prove, especially back on home turf.
The first quarter was a very even contest, with both sides going bloody hard at the pill, looking to prove their side would emerge as the alpha male from the game’s early stages. As an onlooker without much knowledge of the two sides going into the game, you would expect UNSW to be right on top at Quarter-Time, considering they are sitting high in the Top 4, and have had some massive results already in 2021. However, we did not let UNSW get their own way, making it a real hard fight both in the air and on the deck.
Coach Damien Truslove was extremely happy with the first half display, as we were well on top in terms of Inside 50s and clearances, two vital areas especially against a strong side. Our ball movement was starting to click, and it was all down to our dogged attack on the ball. An upset was right on the cards.
11 points down at Quarter-Time became 26 at Half-Time, but we weren’t in panic mode, and trusted our offenisve work could get the game back in our favour as the contest went on. A real highlight of our first half was debutant Jayden Rapley kicking his first goal for the club, and the boys all got around the young fella.
East Coast needed to match UNSW defensively in the second half if we were going to win. Truslove attests that it was these areas that let us down in the crucial stages, as our defensive structures struggled to get back into place after turnovers. This also allowed the Bulldogs to transition the footy well from their D50 to F50, and this only increased scoreboard pressure on us. 39 points at 3QT was the margin, and we would need a huge comeback to savour a win.
We tried a few different things in the final term to hopefully swing the momentum, including sending stalwart backman Ben Bourke down forward to spice things up. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the result we were after, and UNSW extended the winning margin to 53 by the final siren, with some late goals solidifying the win.
Rapley was tremendous on debut with 2 goals, Tommy Zdrillic kicked two as well. Bailey Stewart and Aaron Drinkwater was brilliant as usual, continuing their strong season.
A loss is never ideal, however we showed some real improvement against a competition heavyweight. Stephen O’Connor continues to lead us well in the Ruck, ensuring we remain dominant at stoppages, and as mentioned our ball movement was elite in patches. Consistency is the key going forward.
East Coast Eagles
Best Players: B. Stewart, A. Drinkwater, C. Dowle, T. Zdrilic, B. Bourke, M. Eastman
UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs
Best Players: M. Conn, B. Foote , Z. Cameron, T. Banuelos, M. Geddes, L. Ross
|1||North Shore Bombers||5||5||0||0||489||197||248.22||20|
|2||UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs||5||4||1||0||539||194||277.84||16|
|3||Pennant Hills Demons||5||4||1||0||466||254||183.46||16|
|4||UTS Australian Football Club||5||3||2||0||439||364||120.60||12|
|5||Inner West Magpies||5||2||2||1||350||356||98.31||10|
|7||St George Dragons||5||2||3||0||398||403||98.76||8|
|8||East Coast Eagles||5||1||4||0||280||390||71.79||4|
|9||Manly Warringah Wolves||5||1||4||0||270||425||63.53||4|