18 months felt like no time at all on Sunday afternoon, as the Goulburn City Bulldogs picked up where they left off in late 2019 for a stirring first round win against the West Belconnen Warriors.
The Bulldogs' First Grade campaign got off to an ideal start at the Goulburn Workers Arena, as they ran roughshod over the Warriors early to take a 22-4 lead at half time.
The first 40 minutes of the match featured archetypal Bulldogs play, with plenty of quick passing, aggressive running, and creative scoring.
"It took us 29 minutes to give away our first penalty," Bulldogs co-coach and forward, Tyson Greenwood, said.
"Credit to the boys there, they were absolutely unreal in terms of completion. And I said to them in the first half, as soon as we throw it around, we score."
Try machine Steve Cummins was the easy money to get the Bulldogs on the scoreboard, and he did not disappoint. He crossed in the left corner in the early minutes of the match to give the Bulldogs a lead which they did not relinquish for the rest of the game.
Running with the wind at its back, Goulburn piled on tries in the first half and, thanks to the near-flawless conversion kicking of Isaac Walker, were 18 points ahead at the break.
However, the Bulldogs' momentum screeched to a halt early in the second half, when an error led to West Belconnen's second try. Before long, a third and fourth followed as Goulburn then struggled to stop the visitors.
"In the second half, we started with an error and give away a penalty," Greenwood said.
"We let one in and then our heads dropped a little bit and we went away from our game plan. I said at half time that if we played their footy, we invite them back into the game."
The run of play was so against Goulburn that, at one point, Greenwood himself was sin-binned for a contentious trip.
The scores were nearly level at 22-20 after the Warriors' late surge, but an inspired try to fullback Max Flack, which was set up brilliantly by five-eighth Tom Croker, gave the Bulldogs some room to breathe.
Goulburn held the 28-20 lead until the end of the match, and Greenwood applauded the resilience his players showed to clutch their lead at all costs.
"We're never going to be the biggest team in the comp, but as long as we've got the biggest hearts on the field we'll always come away with a win," he said.
"The boys stuck it out and I'm super proud of the effort they put in."
The Bulldogs next take on the Queanbeyan Kangaroos at the Goulburn Workers Arena on Sunday, April 18. The Roos are fresh from a loss to the Tuggeranong Bushrangers.
Proceedings will get underway with the Ladies' League Tag next Sunday at noon, with Reserve Grade to follow at 1.30pm and First Grade at 3pm.
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