Buxton Bulls started life in the Midlands Premier Division with a hard-fought victory over a tough Bulldogs outfit.
In monsoon conditions it was the Bulls who caught the visitors cold early on.
Straight from the kick-off the Bulls’ forwards gained great ground which resulted in Jay McGuigan chipping over and collecting to score the opening try.
Josh Hope converted for a 6-0 lead for the hosts.
From the restart it was the same story this time it was David Palfi with a strong run which resulted in him crashing over for a try, Hope again converting.
A mistake from the Bulls finally gave the Bulldogs a chance to have the ball in hand and they soon started to show their class with some strong running by the forwards and with their scrum half Nick Evans causing all sorts of problems the pressure finally told with a close range try.
With great defence from both sides it was going to take a special piece of play to break it down.
A long kick upfield by the Bulls saw full-back Nathan Burchell collect the ball and go the full length of the field dancing around numerous defenders to score out wide.
The second half was a bruising affair with both sets of forwards running and defending strongly but it was the Bulls’ Lee Orton who found a half gap and was able to crash through to score the next try.
The conversion was missed so it remained 16-10.
This seemed to spark the visitors into life and some great play allowed them to score again, with a conversion making scores level at 16-16.
As the game wore on it was hard to see which way this would go and a piece of brilliance from the Bulldogs’ Evans saw him carve open the Bulls defence to score to open up a 20-16 lead.
This stunned the Bulls and with their 100% record in jeopardy the will to win came back.
Some strong running from the forwards enabled skipper Ben Austin to power through the defence to score next to the posts, Ryan Sircar stepping up to convert 22-20.
With the game now in the final minutes Buxton had the upperhand and James Brown capitalised on a mistake by the visitors to extend the lead, which finished 28-20 after Sircar converted.
• This weekend sees Buxton travel to Mansfield-based Sherwood Wolf Hunt (2.30pm).