18 of the Denver Bulldogs piled into 2 mini vans and a couple of cars on Friday for a 10 hour road trip to participate in Des Moines 80/35 annual 10’s tournament in Iowa. Most of the boys arrived around 8pm and enjoyed a steak dinner or carb loading pasta before settling in for an early night at the team hotel. The bulldogs had a small team breakfast and arrived at the Des Moines Rugby club at 9am. The dogs were scheduled for our first game at 10am and then would play back to back to back before having our first break 1pm and final match at 2pm. We had a big day ahead of us, but walked onto the field full of confidence.

Game 1
The Bulldogs started the game slow and took a while to get going. The back line stood strong lead by Wilson-Humphries and Harkness until the bulldog’s midfield started controlling the ball. MacMahon kicked one off the ground, World Cup style and Clayton took a strong mark then converted to give the dogs an early lead. Jeremy O’Connell got the team going with his snap on goal late in the first half. At halftime the dogs held a 3 goal lead. After the break the dogs were full of run and shared the ball around. Harkness, Marcum and Garthright all kicked running goals from the wing, while Kirk joined the party kicking a snap across the body. Big forward Debono showed he still has what it takes kicking 2 goals to finish the game strong. The dogs banged home 7 goals to 0 to win the first match convincingly.

Denver Bulldogs 10.9.69
Wisconsin Wombats/Minnesota Freeze B 0.3.3
Goal Kickers: Debono 2, Harkness 2, Garthright 1, Kirk 1, Marcum 1, O’Connell 1, McMahon 1, Clayton 1, Watters 1

Game 2
The dogs came out the blocks slow and were kicking into the wind. The roosters kicked a couple of early goals and held a slight lead for a majority of the first half. The bulldogs worked hard, the midfield combo of McMahon, Watters, Kirk, McVickers and Alvi started to get the bench rotations right and locked down the Roosters key running players. Watters and Harkness kicked two long goals each to get the dogs back on top and they ran out the game strong keeping the Roosters scoreless to finish the match.

Denver Bulldogs 6.4.40
Des Moines Roosters 3.3.21
Goal Kickers: Harkness 2, Watters 2, McMahon 1, Garthright 1

Game 3
The Bulldogs came into the 3rd game with a lot of confidence and under estimated the Swans from the first bounce. The swans kicked the first couple of goals and never looked back. The bulldog runners couldn’t contain the strong Chicago midfield. After a halftime spray from coach Harkness the dogs came out and played some hard tough bulldog style footy. Unfortunately inaccurate shots at goal from Clayton, Noble and Kirk kept the dogs out the game. The dogs were out played by a very good Chicago side.

Denver Bulldogs 2.6.18
Chicago Swans 6.4.40
Goal Kickers: McMahon 1, Watters 1

Game 4
The Bulldogs came out very flat after having the hour break. The dogs looked tired and slow early. The Freeze controlled the first half and kept the dogs goalless. Minnesota banged home 4 unanswered goals to have a handy lead at half time. The freeze celebrated early and rubbed salt into the wounds after every goal kicked. The bulldogs leadership group was not happy and pumped the boys up during the break talking about how the bulldogs always play hard tough footy. An inspired team came out lead by defensemen Clayton and the Posey brothers and took it up the freeze players. Watters was given the job of shutting down Minnesota playmaker, which helped the bulldogs gain control. The dogs ran hard, chased and put on many bone jarring hits. The freeze were feeling the pain and not happy at the physical style of play. Bulldog rookie McCole demand to enter the game stating he would kick some goals. McCole charged on the ground and kicked his first 2 goals for Denver.The freeze kept playing, sneaking another goal. The bulldogs kept pushing, kicking 2 more goals to get within one kick. A late goal by the freeze sealed the game in what was intense match up between the teams. An illegal hit off the ball by an ex teammate to Kirk was missed by the umpires seconds before the siren would sound, but it was all too late for the dogs. Minnesota would once again beat the dogs in the Midwest. A healthy rivalry is now developing between the two central teams.

Denver Bulldogs 5.2.32
Minnesota Freeze 7.2.44
Goal Kickers: McCole 2, Clayton 1, Harkness 1, McManhon 1

Best on Ground: Tim Wilson-Humphries, John Clayton and Jarryd Watters.
Weekend Clanger: Jarryd Watters

Congratulations to Tim McCole, Jarryd Watters, Andrew Alvarez, Derek Valenciano and Karl Whitman for playing there first official USAFL games for the Denver Bulldogs this weekend. Welcome to the club guys!