Beaten Bulldogs keep biting until final whistle
AS a young captain knowing how much talent his side has, Aiden Boyce had every right to be disappointed when victory was so close but yet so far.
The West End Bulldogs are rated one of the frontrunners to make the final of this year's Volunteers Cup between A-Grade sides from Ipswich and Toowoomba.
However Boyce and his teammates were left with mixed feelings after their 32-30 loss to Toowoomba opponents Souths at the North Ipswich Reserve.
"It was heartbreaking in the end but you can't win games like that really if you are going to complete less than 50 per cent,'' he said.
The Bulldogs gave up two much ball at key times.
That's why Boyce found a massive positive in the first-up loss. West End were always in the game, making a final charge scoring the final try and just running out of time.
"We've had four weeks now of pre-season pretty much . . . and I'll give them (our players) full credit (for battling to the end),'' Boyce said.
"For the amount of ball we dropped and to still be in the game like that, it just comes back on all our fitness we've been doing and our hard work.''
Souths are coached by former Ipswich Jet Liam Capewell.
Having shared in the Jets memorable 2015 state league grand final triumph, Capewell knows how to win football matches.
For hooker Boyce, pushing Souths all the way was encouraging.
"The first game was always going to be hard,'' he said.
"Four weeks of pre-season, going out there with cobwebs, with all this COVID stuff going on, the restrictions . . . for the boys to go out there and put that performance in is great.
"They (Souths) competed well. They got through their sets. Their defence is key.
"If we can do what they do, I think we'll compete every week.''
In a classic arm-wrestle, the Bulldogs scored just on halftime to level the scores at 12-12.
Prop Trent Manihera-Paul crossed for the decisive four-pointer before adding another to keep the Bulldogs in the contest.
Souths gained the ascendancy in the second half without getting away from the gritty Bulldogs.
"The majority of us are under 24,'' Boyce said.
"For us to go out there and stick it to players that have probably been playing A-Grade for multiple years is a big show of heart from us.''
Boyce grew up in Boonah and played for Fassifern and Brothers before joining West End three years ago. He enjoys his captaincy role.
"It love it,'' he said. "I show a bit of leadership for the boys and hopefully guide them around the park.
"You lead from the front and they follow you.''
West End play Gatton in their second round match at 1.30pm next Saturday at the North Ipswich Reserve.
Souths 32 (Leslie Hartvigsen 2, Jordan Lipp 2, Jaren Bender, Ethan Hearn tries; Mitchell Tuite 3 goals) def West End 30 (Trent Maniherea-Paul 2, Harold Mosby, Bernard Mosby, Reece Broadway tries; Regan Wilde 4, Jesse Zampech goals).