By Grace Knight
The senior men’s Bull Sharks suffered an unfortunate loss at Eximm Oval on Saturday, defeated by Coolangatta 98-59.
Despite the final score, the game was an excellent display of skill between two genuine premiership contenders and the Bull Sharks can take confidence from their ability to fight it out until the very last second.
The weekend also marked Pride Round with the men’s and women’s teams celebrating the inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community in the AFL and ensuring all feel welcome and supported.
HOW IT UNFOLDED
Having not yet played Coolangatta this season, it was clear both sides had been anticipating this clash and it was fiery from the opening bounce as each tried to gain the physical ascendancy.
It was the Blues who handled it best from the start, capitalising on some Bull Sharks errors to kick the first three goals of the game to take a 19-point lead before the visitors finally put one on the board at the 17-minute mark.
After regaining their confidence, the Bull Sharks revived their spirit to go goal for goal from this point up until the half time mark.
In the third quarter the Blues offence started to really click as they surged to a 32-point lead.
The Bull Sharks defence rose to the occasion in the final quarter and were able to halt the host’s momentum. This led to the midfield being able to provide their forwards with more opportunities, however some poor converting robbed them of the chance to reel in the margin.
The Bull Sharks entire backline fought fearlessly all game long with a lot of ball in their end, putting them under immense pressure.
Key players Jaiden Pengelly and Mack Evans took some critical marks and made ferocious tackles throughout the midfield overturning a lot of ball.
Nathan Ratej and Kane Peeters also showed some excellent skill in the forward 50m and also played with a lot of energy which uplifted the team’s spirits throughout the entire game.
WHAT IT MEANS
While the score at full time was less than optimal, the Bull Sharks still remain second on the ladder with Coolangatta now closely trailing them in third.
The Bull Shark’s bye next weekend will allow the team time to regroup in the lead up to the business end of the season.
Carrara still holds top of the ladder, and with their upcoming match against the Bull Sharks in round 16, it will mean an exciting preview for what might be to come in the finals.
WHAT THEY SAID
Head coach John Chenhall was impressed by the way his players held their own at the merciless stomping grounds of Coolangatta.
“In my eyes Coolangatta is definitely the team to beat, especially down on their grounds. It does become a hard place to win at,” Chenhall said.
“This game was a really good learning curve for us, obviously not having played them until this late in the year.”
He noted it is good to know what they’re up against in order to be able to plan over the next four weeks leading into their next matchup.
“It’s a good check for us, we know we’re still a good side, we’re still second on the ladder, and now that we’ve actually played all of the top teams, we’ve just got to implement it,” he said.
“We’ve got a bit of work to do, but we’ve got a very good team and I know we can do it.”
IN OTHER GAMES
The Men’s reserves dominated over the weekend with a much-needed win over Coolangatta. The Bull Sharks final score of 76-38, should leave them feeling much more confident heading into the latter half of the season.
The Women’s seniors were also successful in their game against Maroochydore, securing a 54-28 win. With their upcoming semi-final against last year’s defending premiers, the University of Queensland, the girls will need to bring their best if they want to secure a spot in the final showdown.
The Women’s reserves dominated their game with a commanding 69-point win over Maroochydore, putting them in a good place heading into their semi-final against Southport.