By Olivia Barry & Jack Clifton
The St George Illawarra Dragons Junior Representative teams commenced their respective new campaigns with mixed results on Saturday.
The St George Dragons Harold Matthews Cup (U16) and SG Ball (U18) teams were both defeated by the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground.
The Dragons Harold Matthews Cup team found themselves behind 0-20 at half-time on the scoreboard, but improved greatly in the second half to eventually go down 8-24 to their rivals.
“We were slow to start the game, a bit overawed by the size of the Canterbury team, but I was happy that we improved in the second half when we found we can compete at this level,” said Coach Graeme Wynn.
The Dragons SG Ball team were down 4-10 at the interval before being outgunned in the following stanza to lose 12-28.
“We were well and truly in it up to half time but the constant stoppages throughout the game hurt us and helped the bigger Bulldogs,” said Coach Brad Liggins.
“We need to play a bit tougher if we’re to beat the Steelers in next week’s round 2.”
Both the Illawarra Steelers Harold Matthews Cup (U16) and SG Ball (U18) teams recorded convincing victories over the North Sydney Bears at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.
The Steelers Harold Matthews Cup team came back from an early try down to lead 10-8 at half time after four pointers to Aaron Schoupp and Shalom O’Ofou and a conversion by Schoupp.
Two second half tries to captain Ben Fulton, and one to Rhys Sherlock and Alex Sargent, as well as three Schoupp goals produced a final scoreline of 32-8.
“A pleasing first up win from the boys in trying conditions, but plenty of room for improvement,” said Coach Adam Blake.
The Steelers SG Ball team took an early lead through winger Sam McCann after seven minutes and further first half tries to Cooper Purcell, Jackson Ford, Zac Lomax, Jackson Willis, Jayden Morgan and Dylan Morris, and five goals to Lomax saw the home side leading the Bears comfortably at half time 38-0.
To their credit, the visitors scored two tries to the Steelers one in the second half, with the hosts running out 42-10 eventual winners.
“It was a great result in the end, but we did make it hard for ourselves in the second half,” said SG Ball Team Manager Daniel Perkiss.
“We know what to work on and we’re looking forward to improving next Saturday against St George.”
The St George Dragons will host the Illawarra Steelers at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Saturday.