AFL: Bulldogs make early statement

Good signs: Gunnedah skipper Andrew George was impressed with some of the younger players in Saturday's Crossroads Cup.
Good signs: Gunnedah skipper Andrew George was impressed with some of the younger players in Saturday's Crossroads Cup.

The Bulldogs have pocketed their first silverware for the year taking out Saturday’s inaugural Crossroads Cup.

Hosted by the Narrabri Eagles, the pre-season tournament saw all six North West AFL clubs bar the New England Nomads lace up the boots.

The Bulldogs showed some promising signs ahead of their title defence, defeating the Tamworth Kangaroos by around four goals in the final to claim the silverware.

“That was our best game,” Bulldogs skipper Andrew George said.

He was admittedly a bit surprised by how well they performed with other sporting commitments seeing them send a depleted side.

“We probably didn’t expect to go that well.

“I think we only had seven guys out of our grand final side from last year and three of them actually started on the bench,” George said.

On top of that they only had 18 players for the day, and were down to 16 for the final after two players had to leave for work. That left them with only two subs with games played 14-a-side.

The Bulldogs began the day with a win over the Eagles 1 side. They then suffered a loss to the Roos before accounting for the combined Moree/Tamworth Swans side to cement their place in the decider.

Gunnedah celebrated Crossroads Cup success on Saturday.

Gunnedah celebrated Crossroads Cup success on Saturday.

With the Nomads’ withdrawal the draw was reconfigured and the semi-finals disbanded for a straight grand final.

The usual suspects were prominent but it was some of the younger guys that particularly impressed George.

“We had a handful of new young guys, they all played really well,” he said.

“A couple of them might have played a game of school footy before. They all picked it up really quickly.”

He made specific mention of Zach Turnbull, Ryan Wheatland, Liam Novelly and Tom Maher. The latter is the younger brother of last years Rising Star Ben Maher. 

An encouraging sign for the club moving forward, George attributes last years premiership success as one of the reasons for the influx of young talent.

“With us winning last year it’s helped sparked a bit of interest in town,” he said.

The fact that both high schools in Gunnedah have got teams in the Sam Naismith Cup has also helped generate interest.

Saturday was the Bulldogs only hit-out before the season kicks-off on April 7.

They at this stage still don’t have a coach and welcome any interest.