August 10 2022

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The Papamoa Bulldogs Rugby League & Sports Club has overcome incredible odds this season.

From being on the brink of disappearing with a lack of team players, the team has fully turned things around and made it into tomorrow’s grand final of the Waiariki Rugby League Competition.  

Earlier this year in March, the team was battling to recruit players to keep the game and club alive.

To fundraise and create awareness for the club’s survival, Papamoa Bulldog players carried tetraplegic Bryce Dinneen up the Papamoa Hills.

Engaging the community and league supporters with the event, this was the start of the team’s revival.

“On the Tuesday training following the event we had 26 players turn up for training…that was the start of our journey,” says co-caption Teia Dunster.

“We’ve just hung in there and managed to get a team and we’ve actually gone through the season with only losing two games in the whole season.”

Support and success

The Papamoa Bulldog boys have been overwhelmed with the support they’ve received from the community, says Teia.

Teia gave special to co-captain Daryl Thomas and coach Johnny Kelly for being key players in the team’s underdog journey.

“He’s [Johnny] been the rock of the team who just stayed strong.”

Tomorrow’s grand final, on August 6, will see the Papamoa Bulldogs take on Tauhara Te Maunga Rugby League & Sports club at Puketewhero Park, Rotorua, with kick-off 1pm.

“The jobs not finished yet,” says Teia. “The boys are still wanting to keep working hard until we can hopefully come away with a win.”

The Papamoa Bulldogs invites everyone to go along and support them, with the team far from losing their bark or bite, continuing their team chant: “Doggies are you ready, ready!”

“Six boys from last year’s team that played the full season with the Papamoa Bulldogs never won a game. They went through a pretty tough season and for them to have this feeling right now, it’s a pretty amazing.”