Tatura Bulldogs made the long road trip to Mansfield on Saturday on the back of a great last-start victory over the Swans.June 11, 2014 3:45am
The match gave the team the perfect opportunity to consolidate a spot in the top six against a side which has been inconsistent and was comprehensively beaten last start by Mooroopna.
The Bulldogs, although certainly not at their best, did enough to hold off a determined Eagles’ outfit to eventually record a 17-point victory in what was a fairly uninspiring contest played in good conditions.
From the first bounce it was clear the home side was intent on limiting the scoring chances of the Bulldogs by deploying an extra two men in their defence while playing a five-man forward line which gave Tatura the luxury of having a spare man in defence.
The tactic proved effective because the contest became a real battle of the backlines and hitting targets in the forward 50 proved difficult.
Youngster Matt Ryan laid an inspired tackle early on to win a free kick and have Tatura’s first goal on the board after the home side had got the first six pointer.
Tom Sullivan and Ryan again converted their opportunities to open up a 13-point buffer at the first break.
The backline was outstanding in the first term with Jayden Young continuing his return to top form winning plenty of football.
James Wall, Chris Ryan and Tom Miller all roamed far and wide providing plenty of run and accurate delivery.
Wall relished the fact that he was the loose man, setting up many attacking passages of play.
Daniel Flynn up against a giant in Mark Jones held his own and won quite a bit of ball around the ground, showing he is a mobile big man who is developing nicely and will prosper while key big man Paul Kirby is sidelined with a minor hamstring strain.
Kirby was missed more as a big forward against the flood of Eagles defenders.
A four-goal to two second term opened up a comfortable 23-point lead at the main break, with a long major by Billy Lovel sending the side into the sheds on a high and with momentum.
Once again some simple skill errors cost the Bulldogs goals and these mistakes, although not costly on Saturday, have the potential to be devastating against the top three sides.
The second half opened up as a real slog and although the football was not pretty it was intense and it took some inspired running from James Wall to get the first goal of the quarter on the board after 10 minutes.
A 30-point lead should have been the catalyst to gain complete control and put the Eagles to the sword.
To the credit of the home team they stuck to their guns and were able to kick goals and stay in touch.
The lead was reduced to a manageable 14 points before Alex OReilly, in his first senior outing this year, converted after a strong mark.
The contest became a real battle between the 50 m arcs with both defences well on top and the forward 50s clogged up with players.
It was to become a contest to see who had the desire to run hardest and spread the best to create scoring opportunities.
The Bulldogs were able to hang on, and although never looking like losing the contest, were made to work overtime. Two goals and 10 behinds for the second half did not make the job any easier compared to four goals four behinds to the Eagles.
To come away with the four points pleased coach Brendan Vanderdonk because it is a difficult road trip, and with the style of play employed by Mansfield, it made for a tough day at the office.
With some favourable results the win places Tatura fourth on the ladder, two games clear of the fifth placed team.
The next two games are against Seymour away and Shepparton Bears at home, both games that the Bulldogs will start favourite in with an opportunity to consolidate a place in the top six.
With Paul Kirby and Billy Hicks both missing for several weeks, the depth of the side will be tested, and as a result the opportunity will be given to players to establish a spot in the side.
SCORES: Tatura 9-14-68 v Mansfield 7-9-51
GOALS: M. Ryan 2, B. Lovel 1, A. O’Reilly 1, S. Whiting 1, D. Flynn 1, T. Lanyon 1, J. Wall 1, T. Sullivan 1.
BEST: J. Young, C. Ryan, J. Wall, D. Flynn, S. Broadbent, M. Ryan.
The reserves felt the impact of injuries and unavailability with senior coach Brendan Vanderdonk and reserves mentor Darren Kirkpatrick joining assistant senior coach Brenton Sheppard in the side.
The game turned into a hard-fought match with the home side holding the advantage throughout the first three quarters only for an inspired five-goal final term that swept the Bulldogs to a fantastic victory.
Sam Green relished the heavy conditions and played his best game for the year throwing his body in regardless of personal safety.
This approach inspired his team-mates and, with James Nihill continuing his consistent form winning the ball in tight contests, and James Fraser also working his way back to top form, the whole side lifted.
Sheppard finished the work with four goals and youngster Robert Kirby again played a good game and is developing strongly as a ruckman.
The win puts the side only one win from sixth position in an even competition.
SCORES: Tatura 9-6-60 V Mansfield 7-4-46
GOALS: B. Sheppard 4, J. Nihill 1, J. Thurston 1, B. Harris 1, S. Green 1, B. Vanderdonk 1.
BEST: S. Green, J. Nihill, J. Fraser, D. Burls, R. Kirby, A. Poppa.
After a strong early part to the first quarter a lapse in the final few minutes gave the Eagles the chance to slam on three quick goals which opened the game up and proved too difficult for the young pups to manage.
The resulting three quarters saw the two teams evenly matched with the Eagles kicking seven goals to the Bulldogs’ five. Unfortunately the lapse was costly.
Josh Pena was great throughout, winning a lot of contested football and showing plenty of courage.
Brayden McGregor and captain Jack OToole led strongly and ran hard throughout the contest.
Big man Joel Batson and defender Liam Borrelli also showed great spirit and endeavour.
Daniel Maher also got back to some solid form.
The team is showing steady progress, and with some players returning from injury soon, a win is not far away.
SCORES: Tatura 6-4-40 v Mansfield 11-9-75
GOALS: H. Bertram 2, Z. Ballis 1, L. Borrelli 1, N. Baldwin 1, J. O’Toole 1.
BEST: J. Pena, B. McGregor, J. O’Toole, J. Batson, L. Borrelli, D. Maher.
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