Round two of senior North West AFL competition saw the Gunnedah women’s Poochettes secure a second consecutive win, accounting for the Inverell Saints women 27-16 in a grand final replay at Inverell’s Varley Oval last weekend.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs men couldn’t secure a winning double for the Gunnedah club, defeated 107-50 against the reigning premiers of the Inverell men.

In a hard fought contest, the Poochettes prevailed in wet conditions and in the process promoted their influence on the competition towards potential premiership favouritism.

With limited personnel, the Poochettes ground out their victory under duress by combining a steely resolve for four quarters of the match.

Both sides traded majors early in the match, but by quarter time the Poochettes had their noses in front thanks to an extra shot on goal and a minor score, leading by a single point at 7-6.

That flipped by the end of the second quarter though and as a stalemate ensued, the Saints women kept the Poochettes scoreless for the quarter in edging their way in front in a congested second term, lead the Poochettes 8-7 at the half time break.

An arm wrestle between the two sides depicted the first half, but the half time interval came at a crucial time for the Poochettes.

Upon a reset and refocus, their positional rotation asserted their dominance on the match in the third term.

Led by captain Katrina Rekunow and deputy Casey O’Connell, the midfield/forward rotation enabled fresh attack on the ball in regular intervals.

Rekunow and O’Connell were crucial for the side, gaining first use of the ball for the Poochettes and combined with Meg Leaton and Lily Jensen having
stints rotating with their leaders, ensured the Poochettes forwards had numerous supply inside attacking 50.

Crucially though, the Poochettes defence remained rock solid throughout, keeping the Saints scoreless for the third quarter whilst at the other end putting scoreboard pressure on their opposition.

On the back of their defence and ability to consistently win and then move the ball forward, the Poochettes blew the game wide open by slotting two crucial majors, leading by 10 points at 19-9 by three quarter time.

Down on troops and having started the match with 16 players, that was then cut down to 14 through injury by the start of the last quarter, the Poochettes gritted their teeth in grinding out the last quarter, sealing a backs to the wall victory by 11 points at 27-19.

Amelia Woolaston played a ruck forward role and was the only multiple goal scorer with two for the Poochettes, whilst O’Connell and regular defender turned forward Kelly Ewington also hit the scoreboard for a major, sealing victory for the Poochettes.

In the men’s fixture, the Bulldogs again were valiant in defeat against the reigning premiers the Inverell Saints men.

The Bulldogs kept touch with the opposition in the first quarter to trail by 16 points at 29-13, but it was a second quarter six goal blitz from the Saints that bent the back of the Bulldogs.

During that blitz, the Bulldogs couldn’t muster a major and despite the Saints’ goal scoring ascendency, the Bulldogs backline were crucial in limiting the damage on the scoreboard.

Zeb Dillon at fullback was a rock, continually snuffing out waves of Saints attack but by half time, the Saints had unlocked an unassailable 54 point lead at 68-14.

Whilst Dillon remained a defensive rock, the midfield of captain Adam Curgenven, Max Reis and Darcy Hill were serviced by the tap ruck work of Will Mannion, who with Dillon was one of the Bulldogs’ best performers for the match.

From there, the Bulldogs were able to extract the ball from the centre, in turn gaining momentum in the third term and converting that into points during the third term with five straight majors.

However, the Saints were able to keep the Bulldogs at arm’s length and due to their second quarter onslaught, kept the Bulldogs trailing for the entirety of the second half.

By match’s end, the Bulldogs were valiant in their 57, 107-50 loss and most impressive was the growth of the Bulldogs’ young brigade of potential stars.

Dillon was best on ground for the Bulldogs on the day for his continual repeat efforts in defence at fullback, whilst Mannion continues to show potential as a cornerstone of the side as ruckman.

Mannion, combined with the heightening growth of fellow teenage stars Mason Louis, Liam Naismith, Tom Carlyon and Callan Gibson, continue to impress in their roles for the Bulldogs on a weekly basis.

Naismith booted his way to two majors for the Bulldogs at centre half forward, whilst Louis, Reis, Mark Ewington, Ryan Cooper, Jakob Vearing and Dan Pass also hit the scoreboard for the Bulldogs with one each.

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