Northern Rivers Titans too good for North Coast Bulldogs in Round One of the NSWRL Country Championships

Macksville’s Matt Hyland was a workhorse for the North Coast Bulldogs in Round One of the NSWRL Country Championships against the Northern Rivers Titans on Sunday at the Port Macquarie Regional Sports Stadium.

THE North Coast Bulldogs took on the Northern Rivers Titans on Sunday 3 March in Round One of the NSWRL Country Championships at the Port Macquarie Regional Sports Stadium.

The immaculately maintained playing surface was not affected by recent rain and a moderate breeze throughout the afternoon took the edge off the hot and humid conditions that were just bearable for playing footy.

Both sides had opportunities for early points however penalties and errors with the ball worked against the Bulldogs, who were not able to capitalise on good field position when in possession during the opening few minutes.

A disciplined Titans outfit put pressure in attack on the centre of the Bulldogs defence and an Adam Walker try, converted by Toby Marks, had the Titans up 6-0 at the 12 minute mark.

The response from the Bulldogs was impressive and crowd expectations of a tight match-up grew when three minutes later the Bulldogs answered their opposition’s try with Old Bar’s Simon Wise crossing the line.

The try was converted by Nambucca’s Tyronne Roberts Davis, taking the score to 6-6 only 15 minutes into the game.

Three minutes later the unfazed Titans stuck to their game plan and responded with another converted try which seemed to set the tone for the rest of the half.

The Bulldogs, giving away too many penalties in defence and seemingly lacking confidence, were unable to stop a relentless Titans attack.

The half time score was 30-6 in favour of the Northern Rivers Titans.

Three minutes into the second half disaster struck for the Bulldogs when Tyronne Roberts-Davis was hurt in a tackle and left the field, not to return for the remainder of the game.

The loss of Roberts-Davis seemed to galvanise the North Coast Bulldogs and they began to demonstrate discipline and consistency in both defence and attack.

The Bulldogs were to suffer another blow when Macleay Valley Mustang Ethan Thompson had to be stretchered from the field.

Despite two of their stars now sidelined the Bulldogs were able to hold out the Northern Rivers attack, only conceding one try in the second half and came close to crossing the line a number of times in the closing 10 minutes.

Remaining calm and demonstrating discipline in ball handling and on the penalty count, the Northern Rivers Titans took the game, defeating the North Coast Bulldogs 36-6.

The best player on the paddock for the afternoon was the Titans’ Hezekiah McKenzie, however Matt Hyland for the Bulldogs was a tireless workhorse through the afternoon, only missing 10 minutes on the paddock.

The standard of play he demonstrated bodes well for his home club the Macksville Sea Eagles in the 2024 Group 2 season.

This game was preceded by the Round 5 Laurie Daley Cup U18s clash between the Northern Rivers Titans and the North Coast Bulldogs.

In an exciting game of rugby league that showcased some of the rising stars of the game the Titans came out on top, defeating the Bulldogs 44-2.

Macksville’s Rielly Laverty and Nambucca’s Toby Batten were impressive for the Bulldogs, both contributing to their team’s point score.


Nambucca’s Toby Batten in action with the North Coast Bulldogs in their Round Five Laurie Daley Cup U18s game against the Northern Rivers Titans on Sunday at the Port Macquarie Regional Sports Stadium.

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