It’s tremendous for our confidence and a reward for the hard work the squad has put in during the off-season to start the season with two wins going into Sunday’s big local derby clash against Burleigh Bears.
But we all know the level goes up another notch in this match and it’s going to be a real test for us, especially without halfback Ryley Jacks who has led the team around the field so well in the first two games.
The key aspect to our early season results has been our defence, that has been much better than last season with our missed tackles and line-breaks against us right down in the first two rounds.
We haven’t been conservative enough, or patient enough, with the ball and thus are making more errors than we should be. But we are defending those errors, and defending penalties, a lot better than last season.
We did a lot of work on defence in the off-season and set a whole session a week on defence in the pre-season. In the warm-up for each session now we cover four key things which are generally defensive things, so we’ve really worked hard on getting those processes better.
Although we’re only two games, they are working with missed tackles down which has resulted in line breaks being down.
What the effort against the Blackhawks did is show we can defend a good side, which they definitely are. We had to do a lot of defence in the first half especially and, of their four tries, two came from kicks and one from a one-on-one steal near our line. So, we defended their shape really well.
Against the Hunters the week before when we held them scoreless which was a good effort but they were underdone and struggling a bit with so many changes to their team and thus so many new attacking combinations and they didn’t play with much flair. So we have to put that into perspective.
We’ll get tested this week against Burleigh. The Bears put 40 points on Ipswich last weekend and have a very experienced team, so we know what we’re up against. It’s another step up.
It’s a traditional local derby that always has a lot of feeling in it. So our players have to know the importance around it and treat it with that respect.
We’ll be without halfback Ryley who has been called up to the Titans side. He has been controlling the play really well and with Christian Hazard being out injured, it’s an area we have to adjust to.
We’ve selected Jack Cook there who has played plenty of halfback and has to be in our 17 but Mitch Rein can play 80 minutes at hooker and was very good for us last week against the Blackhawks.
What has been pleasing is the depth in the squad we have shown. Christian and our captain Cheyne Whitelaw haven’t played and John Palavi missed last Sunday’s game through suspension yet we have competed really well with a lot of input off the bench and having some guys really capable of playing well at this level who haven’t had a chance yet.
A few of them are new to the club like Bayley Faull who is a guy who has come from the Roosters and people up here knew little about but he carried the ball strongly in his debut for us against the Blackhawks and will be a real asset.
I hope we can get a lot of Gullies supporters heading to Pizzey Park on Sunday and give us some good support because we know the Bears people will turn out in force. It’s always a great atmosphere and a spirited game. And, as I said, a step up for our guys.