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By Sean Fewings
In one of the most bizarre starts in Bulldogs Division One history, the Reserves turned up for the season opener at Trumper Park looking more like a travelling minstrel show rather than a side that had contested the previous year's Grand Final.
It was a side with more strangers than a swingers' night at club legend, Brad Abbott's place as the Twos struggled to field a team due to injuries, retirements, Premier grade duties, overseas jaunts and the usual Eastern Suburbs distractions.
One player was quickly registered and cleared by Friday after a Wednesday phone introduction; another was registered sight unseen on the testimony of the team's Vice-Captain.
Two were snared from the Threes; one from the Under 19s; yet another from the fifths, whilst Assistant Coach, Brett Roberts, was told to bring his gear and club stalwart, Banjo David, was thrown some boots and asked to make up the numbers.
Nevertheless, this motley crew stunned the crowd and UTS, level-pegging with the Bats right up to the half time break.
The Reserves' three leading forwards for 2013 were all playing Ones, so a reshuffle saw Alex "AMac" McKenzie start up forward on the small confines of the Bulldogs' old home ground.
With a new line-up and virtually no training together, the Dogs battled to convert but it was the huge pressure that won the visitors a mountain of praise.
UTS came out of the gates trying to bully UNSW-ES, who gave as good as they got...and more.
The old hands stood up when required with Chris Jourdain winning best on ground with his renowned ferocious tackles and clearing runs out of the back half and middle when it counted. James "Lanky" Moran dominated the ruck.
Acting skipper, Tom Falvey, had a terrific game...holding the fort across the middle, half back line and occasionally up forward.
He was ably assisted by Jack "Pepsi" McAnespie and former Ones gun, Andrew Friedlieb, in the centre clinches.
The big surprise packet was "Filthy" Phil Barkman who played his best game for the Reserves so far with a fantastic big-punching role on the backline.
The oldest bloke in the team, 400-gamer Brett Roberts, also showed a few tricks of his own with a top-notch performance, particularly in defence.
But equally as importantly, it was the "replacements" who joined their more experienced clubmates with a four quarter flurry of fierce tackles, bodies on the line and a refusal to surrender.
In possibly the weirdest move ever seen in Sydney football, Vice-Captain Michael Archibald, urgently asked to be rested midway through the second term so he could retire to the toilets for a "number two."
Threes young gun, Ian Bacon, was floored with a knee ligament and pretty soon into the second half, the lack of match fitness for the newbies, limited training time and extra rotational burdens started to take their toll in the heat.
However, the score line didn't do the Bulldogs justice...the physical attack on the footy and their opponents kept on coming until the last siren, earning the boys the high praise of their coach.
The Twos now have their eyes firmly set on next week and the hopeful return of some much needed experience.
UNSW-ES 1.1 (7) 3.2 (20) 3.4 (22) 4.5 (29)
UTS 2.1 (13) 4.2 (26) 7.5 (47) 11.6 (72)
Goals: Thomas Duffy 2, Jack McAnespie, Tate Meredith
Best: Chris Jourdain, Tom Falvey, Jack McAnespie, Andrew Friedlieb, Phil Barkman, Brett Roberts
Last Modified on 01/04/2014 23:01