In the course of their 76-0 win on Sunday, it was not the performance of the Goulburn Bulldogs League Tag side which drew praise, but their kindness.
The Bulldogs took on the Queanbeyan Roos at the Goulburn Workers Arena in the first of three matches on the day.
From the outset, it was apparent that there was a clear class difference between the two teams.
The Bulldogs, who are veterans of three Canberra Raiders Cup League Tag grand finals, scored consistently in the first half of the game and ran up a 48-0 lead at the break.
The Roos improved their defence in the second half, but it did little to prevent Goulburn from charging towards a win.
Despite the result, the Roos players thanked their Bulldogs counterparts after the game for their sportsmanship.
The difference in ability and experience between the two teams was abundantly clear, but rather than ruthlessly exploit their opponents' lower skill level, the Bulldogs went so far as to offer tips to Queanbeyan during the match.
"When a team loses by 70-odd points, and they say it was nice to lose to you, that says a lot about the culture," Goulburn co-coach Vaughan Winnel said.
"It says a lot about the girls as people."
While the Bulldogs were confident going into the match, co-coach Sophie Broadhead said they still had to be on guard against complacency.
"Games like this, it's pretty easy for the girls to not come in switched on," Broadhead said.
"We didn't really talk up the game to the girls, even though we suspected it might be a scoreline like that. We never mentioned it at training, we just focused on the basics and getting the little things right."
Following the sweeping changes to the coaching staff which took place as the Bulldogs were rebuilding in late 2020, Broadhead and Winnel have brought a new style of play to the team.
"It's more skill-based," Winnel said.
"They should all be able to catch and pass and be able to come in and out of positions. It's a bit more touch football style than league.
"We want everyone doing everything at training, as opposed to league where some people might not touch the ball for an hour at training."
To this end, Winnel and Broadhead (who also played on Sunday) rotated their players frequently throughout the match and challenged the Bulldogs to play in positions with which they were unfamiliar.
As Goulburn's players become accustomed to the changes to their play style, Broadhead said there is still "lots to work on", but added that they were happy with where the team was at.
"We've got to back it up and we've got to keep building. We don't want that to be the standard we set, we want to get better," she said.
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