Gunnedah and District Bulldogs Australian football club endured mixed results at the weekend, as the women’s Poochettes side started their premiership defence in grand fashion, while the men suffered a severe loss against the Tamworth Swans.

In an away fixture at Tamworth’s Number One Oval, it was the Poochettes who shone brightly in gloomy and drizzly conditions, moving the ball with freedom on their way to a 56-point thrashing of their counterparts.

Although displaying patches of good footy over the four quarters, ultimately the new Bulldogs men’s outfit that included six debutantes, were outclassed across the ground against a well-drilled and premiership credentialled Swans outfit.

It was the Poochettes though who were ultra impressive, solidifying their endeavour of a premiership defence in season 2024, displaying a team-orientated performance for four quarters.

Eight different goal scorers on the day were evidence of the team display from the Poochettes, with Khobi Devine and Lily Jensen leading the way as the only multiple goal kickers with two apiece.

Despite travelling light with the bare 16 players on the day, coach John Woolaston employed a positional rotation at set intervals throughout each quarter of the match.

It paid dividends, as his side responded in positive fashion and the Poochettes players ability to perform different roles was exemplified through the continual pressure on the opposition via the scoreboard.

Each quarter they scored multiple goals, opening up a 13-point buffer by the quarter time break at 13-0.

Their ability to turn over possession in the back half and slingshot the other way was impressive and captain Katrina Rekunow and Kelly Ewington were the key drivers off half back.

Rekunow, in combination with fellow back Ewington, continually turned away any Swans attack and their ability on turnover and link with midfielders Casey O’Connell and Meg Leaton gave the Poochettes forward line continual supply. By half time, the Poochettes opened up an unassailable 22-point lead at 28-6.

From that position the Poochettes weren’t to be reined in, as players were moved into different positions during the second half with a positive response.

Alexa Walker and Annie Elphick provided a one-two ruck forward punch for the Poochettes, displaying a dominance in the ruck and the forward line as rotating key figures at centre half forward.

Their overhead marking ability was a highlight, as well as their ability at bringing the ball to ground from aerial contests and enabling the Poochettes small forwards to go to work at ground level.

In the third term, Elphick was rewarded by hitting the scoreboard for a major, as did rotating small forwards and midfielders O’Connell and Leaton and by the three-quarter time break, the Poochettes all but sealed the match at 47-6.

Impressively, the Pooochettes were stringent in defence, keeping the Swans scoreless for an entire quarter.

While the match was a formality in the last quarter, crucially the Poochettes didn’t put the cue in the rack, running out the match with a further three majors to bury their opposition by 56 points at 69-13.

New captain Rekunow was a standout for the Poochettes in combination with Leaton, O’Connell – in her first game back post maternity – and the Ewington sisters Kelly and Laura standing out for the Poochettes.

In the men’s fixture, the Bulldogs were on the back foot from the outset as a fleet-footed Swans side jumped the Bulldogs from the opening whistle.

Before the Bulldogs could get their hands on the ball, the Swans had scored five goals in 10 minutes in a dominant opening quarter.

Wrestling back momentum was hard for the Bulldogs but they did manage to respond late in the quarter, resurrecting the early onslaught to a degree and head into the quarter time break down 37-6.

A rare highlight for the quarter, debutante Mason Louis crumbed a pack late in the quarter to kick his and the Bulldogs first goal of the match.

Stirred by the early onslaught of the Swans, the Bulldogs garnered momentum in the second term and began to assert some ascendency.

They kicked three goals to one in the quarter, dragging themselves back into the match with Tom Carlyon from the wing crumbing two majors at ground level in combination with Beau Herbert slotting a major.

Although gaining ascendancy heading into the half time interval, the Bulldogs were still a tick over three straight major kicks behind at 46-26.

The Swans, though, flicked a switch to begin the third quarter, punishing the consistent turnovers of the Bulldogs when trying to exit their defensive 50 and in the process piled on seven unanswered goals in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs managed a major of their own but at 93-35, the 58-point three quarter time margin proved a bridge too far.

The Bulldogs did fight it out until the end though, and impressively it was the young brigade of the Bulldogs who stood up and fought valiantly.

Six debutants, four under the age of 18, represented the Bulldogs on the day with Louis a standout on the wing, rewarding himself with his first goal for the club, combined with impressive debuts from Callan Gibson, Liam Naismith, Will Mannion and Nathan Moore.

The positive for the Bulldogs to take away from the 121-45, 76 point loss is the wave of youth entering the side as the club continues its rebuilding phase.

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