Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Good signs for Bulls in first game of season

An inexperienced Shepparton Bulls have put up a strong performance against Northern in their first A-grade Second Division game of the season.

OLIVER CAFFREY April 9, 2014 3:10am

Lee-Roy Huthmann got his Shepparton Bulls teammates up and going after a try-saving tackle early in the game against Northern.

Shepparton Bulls’ move to a higher rugby division looks to be paying dividends after a brave opening round performance against Northern on Saturday.

The Bulls pushed the powerhouse Melbourne club all the way in their Melbourne Rebels A-grade Second Divison clash, before the experienced home side ran out with a 14-point win.

Coach Warren Johnston said he was proud of his inexperienced side taking it right up to a strong unit that will challenge for the title.

‘‘We are really pleased with how the boys played, being our first game and coming off no trial games,’’ Johnston said.

‘‘It’s going to take a few games to get to the standard we want to get to, but we had a few new guys and they did a really good job.’’

Johnston said the Bulls were right in the contest until the closing minutes, when the fitter Northern side closed out the result.

‘‘They (Northern) had three trial games in the pre-season and it was only a matter of them scoring tries in the last 15 minutes — they are a very good team and they have plenty of big boys in their side,’’ Johnston said.

‘‘We had a guy that got yellow-carded for a professional foul late in the game, so we were down on numbers for a bit, but we had a never-say-die attitude all day.’’

Johnston said Bulls lock Peter Slade had an outstanding first-up appearance, while one of last year’s stars, Lee-Roy Huthmann, was back to his best.

‘‘Lee-Roy stopped a certain try in the first few minutes of the game with a huge tackle — all the boys saw that, which lifted the boys for the rest of the game,’’ Johnston said.

Meanwhile, the new under-18 team contested its first round-robin tournament at the Reservior complex.

‘‘The under-18s went really well, they didn’t win a game and they were up against established teams that play in an under-18 comp in Melbourne,’’ Johnston said.

‘‘It was pretty positive stuff for the whole club, the seniors went down early and supported the younger boys.’’

The junior tournament was a one-off at this stage, but a number of younger players will step up to play in the senior side during the season.

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