It was a perfect start to the Southern Inland Rugby Union second grade competition for the Tumut Bulls on Saturday, after beating Deniliquin 24-5 when on the road.
The four-hour trip didn’t hinder the new-look Bulls outfit that was boosted by four new players from Wagga Ag College, including the likes of Mac Cusack, Reilly Box, Riley Catts and Harry Hayes.
Coach Will Reynolds was pleased with his side’s performance and said that his side dug in defensively, which is all he asked of them.
“It was terrific. We hadn’t even had ball in hand before the match and all I basically asked of them was for a big, strong and heavy defensive performance, which the score line reflected they delivered,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds was always expecting attack to be a little clunky but said only expected the Bulls to play what was in front of them.
“In attack, I just let them do their own thing. I only wanted them to have fun and the only instructions from me was not to push the pass,” Reynolds said.
“I wanted them to play what they saw in front of them.”
Reynolds was proud of his entire side’s performance but praised two players in particular for their effort and impact.
“Jake Hardwick in the back line was impressive. He had some strong hard runs and drew a lot of defenders, which created space every time,” Reynolds said.
“Young Tom Kingwill really impressed too; he ran at the line with a lot of vigor and had a lot of purpose.
“The biggest difference between our teams was that our backs ran with purpose.”
According to Reynolds, the Bulls would not have won the match without the services of the clubs’ Aggies contingent, which he was very thankful for.
“We wouldn’t have won the game without their influence. Riley Catts played a massive role in scramble defence,” Reynolds said.
The only concern Reynolds had after the match was the Bulls inability to convert more opportunities, an area he will work on ahead of their next match.
“The biggest let down for us was that we had more points in us, but it was handling errors that slowed us up,” Reynolds.
“We will work on that though and it will only get better with more footy.”
Both sides tested the waters in the first 20 minutes, until a calm and collected Ray Dow and Cooper Carter eased the visiting side into the match.
Carter was the first to score, when darting down the sideline from the scrum base in the 20th minute but the try was unconverted, leaving it 5-nil.
The score remained 5-nil at half time, but shortly after the break Riley Catts found himself on the score board and after a conversion, the Bulls went into the half 12-nil up.
Jake Hardwick then took the line on, busting through the first two defenders, creating space out wide and popping it off before a basic back line draw and pass had Cusack scoring and the Bulls were in front 17-nil.
Deniliquin did hit back with a try to make it 17-5, but a strong Bulls outfit put an exclamation mark on the win when James Murray capitalized on the development of pick and drive plays to score and take the Bulls to 24-5.
Unfortunately, prop Aaron Mulvihill injured his calf muscle and looks to be a wait and see for Tumut’s next game, but otherwise, the Bulls came through relatively unharmed.