The Cootamundra Bulldogs have started the 2022 George Tooke Shield with an impressive 36-14 win over Boomanulla on Saturday afternoon at Les Boyd Oval, Fisher Park.

The Bulldogs went over the line seven times during the match, with captain/coach Jordyn Ballard successfully converting four of those tries. Ballard also scored two tries himself, along with tries to Hayden Cowled, Daniel Maher, Chris Maher and Charlie Tucker.

The Bulldogs raced out to a 22-0 lead early on and never looked back, with Boomanulla’s only try of the first half coming via an interception and 50 metre run to register their first points. Boomanulla were unable to match it early on with the Bulldogs, however, they did win 1st place for some of the coolest haircuts. Ned (Paul) Miller, of the Cootamundra Bulldogs, was pleased with the side’s first hit-out of the season.

“From a pure game’s perspective, it was a good hit-out. Obviously with the first game of the season the boys were a little short on fitness, as most teams would’ve been,” Ned said.

“Boomanulla stuck it to us at times, but I think we always had the class advantage over them.

Jay Ward and Jordyn Ballard played in the halves, which we want as our combination all year, and they combined really well together.

“Our second rower Luke Levett, in my eyes, was our best player for the day.

He made some very impressive runs and some good defence, with Hayden and Jordy not far behind him.

Chris Maher was good too.”

“The first 25-30 minutes were really good. It also gave us a chance to blood five new guys who played in the trial game last week and make their first-grade debut for the club.”

Jaiden Duncan, Tristin Hourn, Jay Mugridge, Malachi Murray and Jack Caldwell all made their first-grade debuts for the club on Saturday.

“Jack played juniors with Coota but hasn’t played for the club for a few years, but we’ve got him back this year, which is great,” Ned continued.

“He came on in the back end of the first half and played most of the second half and gave us some really good enthusiasm from the bench. So, he’s a really good pickup.”

“The lifeblood of any senior football club is local juniors progressing through the ranks into first grade. This was on display on Saturday with a number of locals making their first-grade debuts for the club,”

“The club has always worked hard to ensure young locals have an opportunity to continue their footballing careers after finishing their junior footy, so it was great yesterday to see the boys presented with their debut first-grade jumpers.

“Judging by their stints, it will be the first of many senior games for the club.” Cootamundra will have an opportunity to rest and recover after their round one hit-out, with the side having a bye scheduled for round two.

“Some of the guys picked up some niggly injuries but given the fact we were well in front and it was the first game too, they came off to rest,” Ned said. The Bulldogs next game will be in round three against the Binalong Brahmans on Saturday, 23 April, at 2:15pm.

The Brahmans recorded a 16-26 loss last weekend against North Canberra Bears and will come up against the same Boomanulla side this weekend as the Bulldogs defeated in round one.

Tim Warren