Local crowds were treated to a nail-biting afternoon of NRL action as the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs claimed a 23 – 22 victory over the Redcliffe Dolphins at Salter Oval on Sunday.
The sold-out event, supported by Bundaberg Regional Council and the Queensland Government, brought in sports fans from around the region as well as visitors who travelled from further afield to show their support.
Fans who got to their seats early were treated to the curtain-raiser from the Bundaberg All Abilities Rugby League, a modified sports program for children with special needs.
All Abilities Rugby League co-founder Sonya Olsen said it was an amazing experience for the young players.
“Creating the All Abilities Rugby League last year to give kids with special needs opportunity to play modified league alongside their peers, we never dreamt that in 12 months’ time we would be playing the curtain-raiser to an NRL game in our local region,” Sonya said.
“The Bulldogs have given us this opportunity and we are very grateful to see all those kids out on the field today with such big smiles on their faces.
“The memories from today for our children will last them a lifetime because not many children get to play a curtain-raiser before an NRL club, it’s absolutely amazing, what the kids have experienced today they will remember it forever.”
Supporters flooded into the ground as kick off drew closer, including locals like Clinton Lawton who said he didn’t usually watch games live because it was usually too far to travel.
“It’s good to bring footy out to regional towns and get the local community involved,” he said, describing himself as a lifelong Bulldogs supporter.
There was also plenty of family support for the players on the field with Bundaberg’s own Felise Kaufusi’s family spotted in their Dolphins kit, as well as Glenn Mahoney who travelled in from Landsborough to watch his son captain the Bulldogs.
“We travel a lot to watch him,” Glenn said, adding that it was his first time visiting Bundaberg.
“It’s always something different.”
When asked if he was expecting a Bulldogs win that day, Glenn said he had only one answer.