The 2016 trials have come to an end and the Bulldogs will head into the season with one win a loss from their two official trial matches.
Following the Auckland Nines at the start of February, the Bulldogs headed to the foot of the mountains and tackled the Penrith Panthers, before heading back to Belmore last weekend to host the Melbourne Storm and end their pre-season with a dominant display over the Craig Bellamy coached side.
The performances not only over the past month, but the entire pre-season have impressed Head Coach Des Hasler and will give him plenty to think about ahead of our opening match with the Manly Sea-Eagles.
“I have liked the player’s application and they have really worked hard in all areas,” said Hasler.
“It’s going to be interesting to see with a couple of rule changes, but I’m really excited and it’s an exciting time of year.”
We wrap up the 2016 trial period as we now prepare for our NRL campaign.
The Bulldogs finished this year’s Auckland Nines with two wins from three matches and only missed the finals on points differential. The tournament saw experienced players like Greg Eastwood, Sam Kasiano and Tony Williams play alongside rookies Reimis Smith, Ruebenn Rennie and new faces Craig Garvey, Brad Abbey and Kerrod Holland. The Bulldogs lost their first game to the Warriors, but were able to defeat the Broncos and the Sea Eagles in the following matches. Tyrone Phillips emerged from the tournament as a player to keep an eye on throughout 2016 after starring across the two days and finishing with three tries.
A last minute try to the Panthers through AFL convert Josh Hall gave the home side a 24-20 victory, but the real contest was played in the opening 40 minutes, with all regular NRL players taking to the field, before a number of changes were made from both sides at half-time. The Bulldogs took the points in the opening half and lead 14-12 at the break, but three tries to the Bulldogs one in the second half from the home side sealed the win.
The Bulldogs rounded out their pre-season with a 20-nil victory over the Melbourne Storm at Belmore Sports Ground and whilst 20 points were scored, the most pleasing thing for the side was that they were able to keep the visitors scoreless throughout the entire 80 minutes. Both sides fielded plenty of NRL experience, but a strong opening 40 built on defence was the major factor that led to a 10-nil lead at the break, before two more tries in the second half from Jackson and Sam Perrett sealed a dominant display over the Storm.
“I thought we were good. The biggest thing for us was keeping them to nil. That was our big focus. We didn't play much of our attack, in attack we were offloading and playing free flowing footy. To keep them scoreless is a big result." – Josh Reynolds on the Storm trial.
“It was awesome to get out there after my injury and I was very happy to get through it and get some fitness under my belt.” – Michael Lichaa following the Panthers trial.
"I thought it was a really good hit-out. The most pleasing thing is we kept them to zero.” – Josh Morris following the Storm trial.