The Goulburn City Bulldogs met the halfway point of the season in style on Sunday, with a clean sweep of all five games against the Tuggeranong Bushrangers.
But the club's victories also secured another benchmark: four of the five senior Bulldogs teams are currently ranked in the top three of their respective ladders.
Goulburn's First Grade (ranked third), Katrina Fanning Shield (second), League Tag (third), and Under 19s (first) teams have accrued 20 wins collectively this season, against just six losses.
Meanwhile, the only team not in a top three position - Reserve Grade - sits seventh in a highly competitive division, in which just three points separate them from second-placed Yass Magpies.
This strength across the grades, Bulldogs committee member John Sykes said, is a testament to the club's leadership.
"I think the difference is coaching and I think it's culture," Sykes said.
"When you look at it, our depth right now is being tested because we've had a few injuries. We're pretty thin on the ground with reserves across the grades. But the vibe around the place and the fact that there are so many people pulling in the same direction, I just think everybody's on board and wants to make it as a team."
Only the Queanbeyan Blues have matched Goulburn's number of teams in top three spots this year, with four of their own.
However, unlike Goulburn, the Blues were less impacted by COVID-19 last season. Where the Bulldogs did not field a single team in 2020, Queanbeyan sides played in all four senior competitions, and have since retained strong numbers.
Having undergone a restructure of the entire club and lost a number of key players due to the coronavirus, Sykes said the Bulldogs are performing exceptionally well. This, he believes, is in part due to the consistent feed of talented young players coming through from the junior ranks.
"If you look at it now where we are with first and reserve grade, at least 50 per cent of them have played together since the Under Sevens," Sykes said.
"We're a young side, you take Tyson [Greenwood] and Jesse [Martin, the First Grade co-coaches] out of it, most of our squad is kids that are under 23 or 24.
"If you look at that age group from 18 to 23, those five years are pretty much furnishing all the men's teams. And the women's are young sides too.
"The quality of the junior club flowing into the senior club, along with a good culture, it's just gelling together nicely."
Following the colossal shake-up the club underwent over the last 18 months, it is understandable that the Bulldogs might have expected mixed results this year.
But Sykes was confident, if for no other reason than the mental fortitude of the players involved in the club.
"A lot of those kids that are playing, they're kids that'll give you their right arm not to let a try in," he said.
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