The final round of home-and-away games had plenty at stake with Tatura eyeing off a top-two position on the ladder and Kyabram intent on keeping top spot.By Doug Miller
Played at night in near perfect conditions the contest did not fail to live up to expectations, being played at a frenetic pace in an atmosphere not dissimilar to a finals.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs it was the Kyabram Bombers who were to get the chocolates on this occasion, running out 37-point winners.
The scorecard certainly did not reflect the closeness of the game because at the six-minute mark of the final term there was only one point separating the sides, with Kyabram having their noses in front.
Tatura made three changes to their side with Rhodes Cousland, Tom Durward and Corey Mallon replacing Rob Montgomery (hamstring tightness), Sean Martin (U-18s) and Daniel Flynn (reserves).
The game opened as a freewheeling contest with the ball moving rapidly between the forward arcs.
It was to be Kyabram who opened the scoring with an early goal which was quickly followed by a snap in the goal square from Billy Hicks to maintain his recent goal scoring run.
The Bombers seemed to settle and with some determined football and great finishing skills slammed on the next three goals to take an early 17-point lead.
It took a long goal from Nick Grigg, one of three for the evening, to restore the balance.
He was able to repeat the result straight after and bring Tatura within five points.
Kyabram, as they were able to do all night, found a way to answer the challenge and took an 11-point lead into the first break.
The second term showed how good the Bulldogs can be when they get their game style working and they dominated the quarter having 11 shots on goal to the Bombers four, however, poor conversion again did not reflect the story where it counts the most, the scoreboard.
Billy Lovel booted two great goals and, with Tom Sullivan and Paul Kirby also getting in on the act, things were looking good.
James Wall epitomised the desperation needed in big games as he worked overtime to gain possession of the football before shooting off a handpass to Rian McGough who repaid the faith with a brilliant long goal.
Going into half-time the momentum was clearly with Tatura, however for all their dominance in the latter stages of the first half, the door was still wide open for Kyabram — and when you leave the door ajar good sides will knock it down.
The third term was a real arm wrestle and it took until the 13-minute mark for the first goal to be registered, a major to Kyabram courtesy of a 50 m penalty which turned out to be one of many interesting decisions that were made in the quarter.
For one reason or another it was this inconsistency that seemed to transfer the momentum firmly in favour of the home side.
Whether it was undisciplined play on behalf of the Bulldogs or not, the mood of the contest changed considerably and Kyabram took full advantage slamming on the next six goals and setting up a commanding margin at the final break.
It was a long goal by Jayden Young at the end of the term that gave Tatura some sort of pulse.
Down by 19 points the Bulldogs needed a spark and this came from a snapped goal by Leigh Owen and a long goal to Grigg, followed by the best conversion of the evening from Tatura’s best on the night, Jimmy Hollow.
Hemmed in on the boundary Hollow somehow conjured up a brilliant goal.
All of a sudden the difference was only a point and the momentum had shifted again.
Unfortunately for one reason or another the charge came to a crawl as Kyabram regained the initiative, and their desire to continue to run and spread and their efficient use of the football both by hand and foot cut the Bulldogs up and they were able to boot the last six goals of the contest to blow the margin out in the end.
The manner in which Tatura attacked the contest gives a lot of optimism for the final next week against the Shepparton Swans.
The ability to improve ball use and limit the number of turnovers will be an area that Scott Grigg and the coaching staff will be focusing on in the lead-up to the final.
Rob Montgomery should return and apart from some slight niggles which afflict all sides at this time of year the squad should be near full strength for next week.
Score: Tatura 13. 12 (90) lost to Kyabram 20. 7 (127).
Goals: N. Grigg 3, B. Lovel 2, T. Sullivan , L. Owen, B. Hicks, P. Kirby, R. McGough, A. Young, J. Young, B. Hollow.
Best: B. Hollow, P. Kirby, T. Durward, T. Sullivan, J. Sullivan, L. Wellington.
Coming up against a strong Bombers side the Bulldogs were competitive for large periods of the game.
Jimmy Fraser booted the opening goal of the term to lift his team-mates.
However, as the game settled it was clear the skills and ability to run and deliver the ball were the strengths of the Bombers and they had plenty of talented players across the field.
Daniel Flynn, who was unlucky to be out of the senior side, worked overtime at ruck contests and also around the ground.
He was able to grab some strong marks and threw his body at the contests.
Mitch Elliott and Brett Nankervis, both players with senior aspirations, gave 100 per cent and picked up many possessions.
Elliott’s clearance and running goal from the centre bounce was a highlight of the final term.
The reliable Anthony Howley also stuck to his task in defence against some pretty strong opposition.
Mitch Turner also picked up plenty of the ball and did not give up.
Score: Tatura 5. 2 (32) lost to Kyabram 14. 17 (101).
Goals: J. Fraser 2, A. Poppa, D. Argus, M. Elliott.
Best: D. Flynn, M. Elliott, J. Fraser, B. Nankervis, A. Howley, M Turner.
The young pups fielded one of their stronger teams for the season against the top of the ladder Bombers.
The team was competitive in the first term and continually pushed into their forward 50 only to miss opportunities or to turn the ball over due to simple skill errors.
Seven shots at goal to Kyabram’s four told the story and yet it was to be the Bombers who had the early lead of two points.
The second quarter has been an issue most of the season and the final game reflected that as the Kyabram team showed why they are number one by slamming through five unanswered goals to blow the game apart after such a promising start.
An even third term was followed by a 4-goal-to-1 final quarter to have the Bombers run out comfortable 62-point winners.
Liam Borrelli was magnificent across half-back and he repelled countless Bomber attacks with strength and polished skills.
Steve Barrett played as an over-age player and he was also a rock of Gibraltar showing that he will be a good player for the Bulldogs in 2014.
The run and carry and delivery of Jacob Vraca also displayed plenty to like and he looks a fine talent for the future.
Braden McGregor once again had plenty of poise and he also will be a fine player as his career develops.
Robert Kirby completed a fine season and a big off season and who knows it could be a brother ruck combination in 2014.
Small, but big in heart was Kenny Thomson and his desperation was a tonic to his team-mates.
If coach Joe Minutoli had been able to keep this team together all year it is quite likely they would be a lot further up the ladder than they find themselves.
Score: Tatura 4. 9 (33) lost to Kyabram 14. 11 (95).
Goals: D. Argus 2, B. McGregor 1, D. Minutoli 1
Best: L. Borrelli, S. Barrett, J. Vraca, R. Kirby, B. McGregor, K. Thomson.
A male allegedly armed with a hunting knifed stole cash from a Euroa McDonald's last night.
It’s been a long journey for Tim Roadley but his dream of creating a multi-sport endurance event on the Murray River is now going to be a reality.
It was a big day for Jye McNeil on Sunday, not only celebrating his 19th birthday, but riding a double at the Tatura and Shepparton Racing Club’s meeting, including the big one, the Vraca and Varapodio Italian Plate (1600 m), on the Gerald Egan-trained Jetconi.
Drivers crossing the Echuca-Moama bridge faced delays this morning at 11.30am when a tractor lost its wheel.
Rochester’s old Courthouse is undergoing a facelift thanks to a restoration grant.
Waste collection in Campaspe Shire will change for two weeks during the festive season.
Valley Park Farms' egg production facility is expected to increase production and staff after a $100 000 Victorian Government grant.
Murchison’s Jane Spencer’s first exhibition It Just Dawned On Me will be on show in Shepparton in the first half of next year.
Australian sporting legends are at Heathcote Golf Club this morning for the MS Ashes Trek golf day to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis.
Cobram Barooga Apex Club have raised more than $3600 for Irvin House at Cobram District Health.
Deniliquin RSL Club's A grade bowling championships came to a head on Sunday, with preliminary matches in B and C grade also taking place.
New Transport Accident Commission research has revealed why some young country drivers habitually take risks on regional roads.
State Member for Benalla Bill Sykes has thrown his support behind the government’s proposed new domestic animal ownership laws.
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