EXCITEMENT continues to build at the kennel after a strong showing by the Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs in their first hit-out of the 2019 season.
Taking on the DubboMacquarie Raiders, the Bulldogs first grade dominated in the early exchanges of the mixed trial at Bill Andriske Oval on Saturday.
"After a big pre-season, all the boys were really excited to finally play some footy," Bulldogs coach Brenden Fernley said.
"If anything, we were too excited and didn't execute as well as we could have but that will come as all the boys get more time together on the field.
"We scored two quick tries to open the game and could of had as many as eight more, if not for some errors on our behalf.
"On top of that, in the first 25 minutes with our top group, we limited the Raiders to hardly any chances, which was pleasing."
Despite the strong start, the Raiders fought back to win the match late, as Fernley gave all his senior players solid playing time - with the Dogs coach highlighting the exceptional play of Todd and Trent Ryan, Jayde Tooth, Paul Thornton, Zac Hart and Wade Walker.
"The way Todd controlled the play was awesome and his combination in the halves with Tarje Whitford is only going to get better as the season goes on," Fernley said.
"And then the middles such as Paul [Thornton] and Zac Hart played really well in their first games for the club - combine those two with Tyler Clark, Kem Seru and hooker Tooth and we could have one of the best middle groups in the competition."
Fernley credits this strong start to the tough pre-season, which has been headed by a number of new recruits.
"Todd [Ryan] and Jayde [Tooth] have been big drivers behind the pre-season," Fernley said.
"They are both really excited to be back playing for their junior club and that energy is wearing off on everyone else - it's something I've never seen in footy before.
"You just need to look at the turnout we are getting to Tribe Fitness every Tuesday for weights, where the results are already showing by how strong some of the blokes played on Saturday.
"On top of that, we had an excellent day with the Mollymook Outriggers, where we raced and tested out fitness on the water.
"Both these aspects have helped keep pre-season fresh and not just field work, which I think is the key to success."
The Dogs will return to the field this Saturday when the club hosts a massive day of rugby league at Bill Andriske Oval.
It all starts at 11am with the Queanbeyan vs Windang women's tackle match, before the WLT clash between Milton-Ulladulla and Queanbeyan at 12.15pm
At 1pm, the Bulldogs reserve grade side will battle the Blues, before the club's first grade sides clash at 2.15pm - with the women's (3.45pm) and men's (4.45pm) under 23s vs Indigenous All Stars matches to follow.
"This will be a good final hit-out for the boys, especially playing against Terry Campese's Queanbeyan side," Fernley said.
"If we can have more patience on offence and continue to build on those combinations, I think we will prove to everyone why we mean business in 2019."
The club's season launch will be at the Mollymook SLSC on March 30, with tickets $25 each.