The end result was a 15-point loss, after conceding the game’s first five goals, but just to see the new Bulldog team under first year coach Jeff Andrews on the field was enough to warm the cockles of supporters’ collective hearts.
Through the first half of the opening quarter Sturt dominated with three goals, with Central then managing to find more of the ball and played out the period to trail by 17-points at the first break, with just a solitary behind.
Sturt had the ascendancy through the ruck and was winning the ball out of the centre, although a couple of the new Bulldogs were making their presence felt, with Nick Lange having an impact, while returnees James Boyd and Dan Menzel were also conspicuous.
Another two Sturt goals in the first five minutes of the second quarter could have spelt the end of the line for Central but no, the boys rose another gear and got back into the contest with three goals, from Dan Menzel, Chris Olsson and Lange, to trail 3.2 to 6.0 at half time.
After the long break a dour struggle started to evolve, as neither side could muster a major through the first 14 minutes of the third term, until Kyle Presbury snapped a beauty from 40m for the goal of the game, to put the Bulldogs within nine points.
Unfortunately, Sturt had the reply, to see Central trail 4.5 to 7.1 at lemons.
The final quarter was another tough struggle as both sides could only add one further goal each, for Sturt to run out 8.3 to 5.6 victors.
But footy has started in 2020 and there were plenty of good signs going forward for the Bulldogs.
Lange had a magnificent debut in the league team and is a player to watch. Having both Menzels in the same side, with Dan joining Troy, is a huge bonus, while Boyd has value-added to Central’s midfield.
Presbury was on fire early and played a solid game, while Trent Goodrem and Ryan Llewellyn were standouts with their defensive pressure.
There are several areas that can be improved on, which will give the Bulldogs a good chance to play finals footy. Clean up the slow start, be more precise with choosing to kick or handball and make sure of delivering to the team’s advantage when in control of the ball.
The round two game will again be at Adelaide Oval, on Sunday from 3.10pm against West Adelaide.
Best: Lange, T. Menzel, Boyd, Presbury, Goodrem, Llewellyn.
Goals: D. Menzel 2, Olsson, Lange, Presbury.
By Robert Laidlaw