Contributed by: Adam Bennett - AFL England President
The GB Bulldogs will look back on their recent defeat in Ireland by the Warriors with mixed feelings. No-one likes to be on the wrong end of the scoreboard when the siren goes and to face that sort of turnaround after a convincing win in Dublin at the end of 2007 definitely rubbed salt in the wounds. That being said, there were a number of positives to take from the experience as well.
Foremost among these were the performance of the newest recruits to the squad, with a hefty 13 of the 23 travelling players donning the Bulldog's kit for the first time. Indeed, Coach Charlie Kielty earmarked 5 of these players as Best-on-Grounds from his team, and the management of the squad were happy to see that none of the new additions looked over-awed or out of their depth.
The squad will admit that on the day, the disciplined game plan called for by Kielty was not adhered to strongly enough, with positional awareness, marking duties and coolness under pressure being picked out as particular development points. This is undoubtedly something that will be focused and worked on extensively over coming training sessions and the upcoming ANZAC Sports Challenge in London on May 2nd will give the squad a chance to reflect on the lessons learned from a determined Irish side.
Set plays and tactical kicking were also lacking at times, which could be accounted for by experience and good pressurising from the Irish midfield. On the flip side, there were also good passages of build-up, link-up play and determined physical competitiveness which will be encouraging and provide some solid foundations on which to build a Bulldogs side focused on preparation for the 2011 International Cup.
Another positive point would be the number of players from clubs outside of London, both across England and Wales. Whilst a number of these have competed with the Bulldogs for a few years now, the new influx of fresh talent from the grass-roots 9- to 12-a-side leagues, stepping onto a full 18's oval for maybe the first time, will be encouraging in how fast they are developing their game to fit new tactics and requirements.
At the end of the day, the Bulldog's were disappointed with the result, but buoyed by what had been a decent performance, in a hard, competitive game against quality opposition. A new experience for many of the squad and a chance to assess what needs to be done to surpass the achievements of the previous squad at IC 2008.
Scorers on the day for GB were Andy Whiteaker (2), Joe Cooper and Tom Judson.
Best players for the Bulldogs were Sam Brunton, Keith Farr, Tom Judson, Will Worthington, Liam Corbett, Amerigo Holthouse and Simon Carter.
World Footy News