The Cootamundra Blues got their season off to a perfect start on Saturday when they defeated the visiting Belconnen Magpies.
With consistent rain making things difficult, the Blues handled the tricky conditions the better of the two sides, controlling the game from start to finish, running out 10.11.71 to 4.5.29 winners.
Before the game, the club observed a minute’s silence for former Blues footballers Paddy ‘Chook’ O’Rourke and Athol Johnston, both of whom passed away last August and December respectively.
O’Rourke was a member of the Blues 1974 premiership winning side that defeated Barellan by 11 points.
Johnston played 100 games for the Blues and was a valued committee member, holding both the treasurer and president roles at the club.
At first bounce it was the Magpies who got off to a fast start, stunning the home side with the opening 2 goals of the contest to jump out to an early lead.
The lead would be short lived as the Blues finally kicked into gear.
On a day where goals would be difficult to come by, Cootamundra went on a dominant run, slamming home the next 5 goals straight.
Led by ruckman Brad McNamara, the Blues midfield ramped up their aggression around the loose ball and proceeded to outwork their opponents.
The increased intensity at the contest led to increased opportunities on goal with no less than 3 Blues forwards getting their names on the scoresheet.
Ben Bungey, in his first outing for the club, put together an outstanding display on debut.
Using his lightning quick pace, Bungey consistently created space between himself and his defender to help drive the Blues forward.
Another defender making his debut was Cody Jordan, who was highly influential.
The Blues fullback showed great timing and courage, flying for the football every time it came near him.
Returning Blues back flanker James Ross showed he will be an integral part of the Blues line-up this season with a very impressive game.
Joining the side late last season, Ross looked at home from the first minute, dictating play with his excellent delivery by foot and clean hands.
The entire Blues back unit was dominant after conceding early, not allowing their opponents another goal until after half time.
Their stellar work ensured Cootamundra would enjoy a 12-point lead going into the half.
The tight contest continued in the third quarter, with both sides enjoying an even share of possession.
Andy Merritt capped off what was a very solid effort with a well-deserved goal late in the quarter to extend the Blues lead to 18-points heading into the last quarter.
On-ballers Jacob Tiernan and Phil Bird got through their usual mountain of work in the middle, showing their class around the stoppages and using their elite fitness to outwork their direct opponents.
The Blues saved their best work for the final quarter, slamming home 4 unanswered goals to run away with the game. By the time Sandy Maskell-Knight kicked his second of the afternoon, the premiership points were destined to belong to the Blues.
Even crowd favourite Mick Knagge managed to sneak forward to kick a rare goal. Not to be outdone, Full Forward Nick Holt capped off the game in style, kicking a classy goal on the run just seconds before the final siren.
Goals: Pearson 4, Maskell-Knight 2, Scott 1, Merritt 1, Knagge 1, N.Holt 1. Pat Kerin’s best: Bird, Scott, Pearson, Tiernan, McNamara, Bungey. Cootamundra will now turn their attention to a matchup with the ANU Griffins this weekend.
The Griffins are always one of the top sides in the competition and will be very tough to beat on their home ground.
The Blues showed great signs of improvement over the course of last season and will be keen to test themselves against one of the competitions elite.