A win and a loss were the results of a trip to Tamworth for the Gunnedah Bulldogs AFL club in round eight of their respective men’s and women’s North West AFL competitions. 

ln opposition to the Tamworth Kangaroos, the Gunnedah Poochettes women’s team emphasised its assertion as the top side of the competition, while the men were comprehensively beaten 178-51.

For the second time this season the Poochettes were able to kick a score of more than 100 points – and in the process, defeated an opposition by that exact margin – winning 108-8.

Coach Jakob Vearing was full of compliments for his side, emphasising it was the best team effort his side had produced this season.

Particularly impressive to Vearing were the training methods he has implemented through the week, which are coming to fruition on game day.

“We speak a lot and have been working on running in pairs,” coach Vearing said.

“Basically helping each other out in the contest.

“Numbers around the ball were awesome on the weekend

“They’re a joy to coach and it was a joy to watch them play the way they did.” 

From the centre of the field, rovers in captain Rani Grant, Khobi Devine and Chloe Sumpter were able to extract the ball time and again out of the centre throw up and also stoppages around the ground.

From there, forwards Nikki Morrison and Gyarn Waugh were peppered with supply inside forward the forward 50.

Following on from last week’s efforts against the Tamworth Swans, both Morrison and Waugh kicked solidly on numerous occasions to bag 11 majors between them – Morrison with six and Waugh, the competition leading goal scorer, booting five.

Morrison in particular has been a revelation since her switch from a defensive post to centre-half forward.

Her work ethic to move up the ground as a target for her backline was key, but most impressively was her ability to mark overhead in contested situations which was a nightmare for her direct defensive opponents.

Waugh, again a key target in the forward-half and goal square, like Morrison, was able to take marks at will through sheer size and strength in aerial contests.

Coach Vearing labelled his backline “the key driver” of the win, and was quick to acknowledge their ability to guard space.

Continually rebounding the footy inside the ground’s forward 50 arc was what gave their midfield time to use the footy and the likes of Morrison and Waugh, the chance to go to work.

“Our backline was awesome,” coach Vearing said.

“Any time they attempted to clear the ball we were set up so well behind the ball.”

He believed best on ground was again Morrison for her ability over the ground, but was quick to sound out Georgia Tibbs on a half-back flank.

“Nikki (Morrison) was awesome again, but I though Georgia was awesome on a back flank,” he said.

“She gained a lot of metres by foot, found time and space as well.

“She gave our forwards plenty of supply – a joy to coach and takes everything on board,” Vearing enthused of Tibbs.

The Bulldogs men didn’t fare so well as a lack of numbers meant they travelled with a bare 17 players for the match.

Rover Adam Curgenven suffered a dislocated shoulder early in the first quarter which reduced the willing Bulldogs to 16 for the match.

Highlight for the side on the day was newcomer Jarrod Ferguson, who is yet to reach 10 games of AFL footy.

He filled in the ruck for an absent Alistair Hillard, performing admirably – his debut match in the ruck position – in winning the majority of ruck contests in the centre and around the ground stoppages.

Women’s coach Jakob Vearing kicked three majors for the men, while James Mack, Hayden Baker and Travis Oakley all kicked a goal apiece.

Round nine has the Bulldogs club host the Moree-Narrabri joint venture at Wolseley Oval.

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