After finishing third on the ladder the Bulldogs had an opportunity to advance to a second semi-final position and the double chance with a victory over the sixth placed Swans.By Doug Miller
Played in ideal conditions at Kyabram Oval the Tatura team brought back Rob Montgomery and Sean Martin for the injured Rhodes Cousland and Corey Mallon.
The Bulldogs, who have been inconsistent over the past six weeks, continued the same pattern and unfortunately it was the young Swans who eventually ran a tired looking Bulldogs outfit off their feet to record a comfortable 31-point win.
The game started at a frenzied pace with both sides applying strong tackles and plenty of pressure, typical finals football.
It was the Tatura team who had the first goal on the board courtesy of a Paul Kirby snap.
A brilliant running goal from Tom Sullivan was quickly followed by an attempted pass from Billy Hicks that went over James Walls head and rolled through for an opportunistic goal.
The lead was out to 15 points and the Swans, when given opportunities were off target and registered five behinds for the quarter.
At the first break the Bulldogs held a 14-point lead and momentum was with them.
The constant pressure being applied to their younger opponents caused the Swans problems and the ball was turned over often.
This pressure allowed James Wall to score the opening goal for the second term, quickly followed up with another, and at this point Tatura looked like hitting the form supporters knew they were capable of.
A 26-point margin had been opened up and it was not until the seven-minute mark of the second term that the Swans registered their first major.
The turning point in the quarter came about with some poor disposal and decision making from Tatura which the Swans capitalised on, adding four goals for the term to reduce the margin at half-time to seven points.
Tom Durward and Tom Sullivan were on top and providing plenty of drive and the reliable Jimmy Hollow had also started well winning plenty of hard ball.
Coach Scott Grigg instructed his team at the long break that correct decision making and team-orientated decisions would go a long way towards winning the game.
A Rob Montgomery goal early in the third term had the Bulldogs up by 13 points and seemingly in some sort of control of the game.
To the Swans’ credit, their persistence was rewarded with two quick goals to cut the margin to a solitary point. It was at this stage the balance of power in the game seemed to change and the run and carry of the Swans opened up the Bulldogs.
The rewards came on the scoreboard and the Swans hit the lead on three-quarter time, a lead which they held to the end of the game.
The final quarter resembled the previous match against Kyabram, as the Bulldogs looked tired and unable to stop the run of the young Swans.
Tatura was unable to register a goal in the final term as the rampant Swans banged through four.
The second half saw Tatura kick two goals five behinds to their opponent’s eight goals seven behinds.
The pattern of previous weeks surfaced again with the Tatura side starting well and then being overrun.
The question to be asked is whether the squad was fit and the answer could be debated for ever however, it must be noted that with up to 10 players living in Melbourne it is difficult to co-ordinate training.
In comparison the Swans have only two travellers and it must be an advantage to have most of the team training together.
Unfortunately this is going to be an ongoing problem as people seek employment in Melbourne.
How to best manage this situation is something for the club to deliberate on.
The final score probably flattered the reigning premier and brought a sudden end to their 2013 campaign.
The task at hand is to retain the majority of the squad as well as bring in new blood to freshen up and further strengthen the team for a legitimate assault in 2014.
Score: Tatura 8. 7 (55) lost to Shepparton Swans 12.14 (86).
Goals: J. Wall 2, T. Sullivan 1, P. Kirby 1, B. Hicks 1, N. Grigg 1, B. Lovell 1, R. Montgomery 1.
Best: T. Sullivan, T. Durward, B. Hollow, P. Kirby, L. Wellington, R. Montgomery.
The Guardian thanks Doug Miller (reports) and Michelle Frenkel (photos) for their support throughout the season.
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