The Tatura side bounced back with a vengeance from the round 16 loss to Rochester with a comprehensive defeat of 11th placed Echuca.By Doug Miller
In fact, the 146-point win has moved the Bulldogs within two per cent of Kyabram and the two sides clash this Saturday night in the final home-and-away game for the season.
The closeness in percentage gives the match increased importance because a win of over two goals may be enough to secure the Tatura side a top two position on the ladder and the all-important double chance.
The contest was a lopsided affair with Echuca in a rebuilding phase and chock full of promising youngsters up against the Bulldogs on the rebound and looking to fine tune before the finals.
Leigh Owen and Billy Lovel made their long awaited return and were able to get through the game well, with both showing they will be important performers if the side is to go deep into September.
Daniel Flynn and U/18 prospect Sean Martin also returned with Tom Durward missing with the flu.
The Murray Bombers came out early with exuberance and had the first goal on the board at the three-minute mark.
The early stages gave a hint of a tight tussle, however this was only an illusion as the Bulldogs slipped into gear with Owen being directly involved in a couple of early goals showing clean hands and good foot skills.
Once again it was a case of missed opportunities and seven shots on goal to one should have meant a bigger lead than 16 points at the first break.
In the second term Tatura set the game up with a six-goal to zero quarter and put the sword to the young Echuca team with fierce pressure and an intensity that has been missing on a consistent basis over the past few weeks.
Billy Hicks (five goals) led the way and his best-on-ground performance continued his great run of form, winning many contests, and he is to be complimented on his finishing skills.
Recently he has been much maligned with his kicking for goals, but through hard work he is now slotting majors from all angles and distances.
Jimmy Hollow, James Sullivan and Robbie Montgomery fed off a dominant ruckman in Paul Kirby and the centre clearances were all one-way traffic.
The second term was remarkable for the fact that Echuca simply could not penetrate the Tatura half back line and it was commented that they did not have one inside 50 for the quarter. The match statistics saw the Murray Bombers only went inside 50, 18 times for the entire game.
The second half produced more of the same with the Bulldogs starting to get more system into their ball movement and the entries into the forward 50 which have been an issue all year started to gel.
The fact that Tatura had 14 separate goal kickers for the match is a clear indication of how well the ball was shared around.
With percentage likely to be a factor it was important for the Bulldogs to finish the game off and this they did in emphatic fashion slamming through 12 goals in a dominant final term.
Lovel (three goals) became a hard leading forward and his accurate long kicking emphasised how important these attributes will be in September.
Alec Young (three goals) also led and marked well and will be a good foil up forward.
A few positional changes worked, with Linc Wellington rounding up the defence off half back and Ben Waite at centre half back both being solid, and the side seemed to have a better balance.
With the list generally healthy it gives cause for optimism in September.
Rhodes Cousland is the only senior player out and he will be available for selection next week after overcoming a hip complaint.
The final 10 minutes of the match was as lopsided a contest as one could imagine and it will certainly give the team a lot of confidence as they approach the business end of the season.
Score: Tatura 27. 12. (174) defeated Echuca 4. 4. (28).
Goals: B. Hicks 5, A. Young 3, N. Grigg 3, B. Lovel 3, J. Sullivan 3, J. Wall 2, R. McGough 1, P. Kirby 1, T. Sullivan 1, T. Lanyon 1, R. Montgomery 1, D. Flynn 1, B. Hollow 1, L. Owen 1.
Best: B. Hicks, B. Hollow, J. Sullivan, L. Wellington, R. Montgomery, A. Young.
Bolstered with the inclusion of Corey Mallon, Brett Nankervis and Jimmy Fraser, the reserves produced one of their best displays of the season running out big winners over an Echuca side which surprisingly included senior star Rhys Archard.
The contest was all but put to rest after a strong first term netted four goals five behinds to nil.
Mallon was brilliant setting up team-mates as well as scoring goals, and his other young mid-fielder Mitch Elliott also enjoyed plenty of football, his exquisite skills bringing others into the game.
Mitch Turner played his best game for a while and once again the skipper, Steve Beale, was tireless and worked overtime around the ground inspiring all around him.
Beale has had a great season and continues to improve with each game, as well as displaying great leadership qualities.
The old fella, Brendan Vanderdonk, thrived in the contest and his fierce attack on the football had to be admired and sets a great example for his younger team-mates.
James Nihill rounded out the best players and he is Mr Consistency, always contributing.
The final game against Kyabram will be a stern test, however with the effort from this game giving confidence, it is with optimism that this final challenge will be attacked.
Score: Tatura 15. 12. (102) defeated Echuca 4. 5. (29).
Goals: C. Mallon 3, A. Poppa 2, M. Elliott 2, B. Vanderdonk 2, B. Harris 2, M. Beale 1, S. Barrett 1, D. Argus 1, J. Nihill 1.
Best: C. Mallon, M. Elliott, M. Turner, B. Vanderdonk, S. Beale, J. Nihill.
An undermanned Bulldogs outfit went into the contest against an Echuca side equal on three wins with them.
Unfortunately the young pups lost on-ball star Liam Borrelli with concussion from a training incident on Thursday night when he ran into Sean Martin.
Tom Devine was also absent and Martin was elevated to the seniors.
The contest was a little like the reserves with the result being the opposite, Echuca set the victory up in the first quarter opening up a 25-point lead at the first break.
Once again the endeavour could not be questioned and the form of the younger members of the squad was encouraging.
Braden McGregor put in another top display and each game he has played in he has been named in the best which is a great effort for a player still eligible for the U/16s.
Michael Archer also showed he has the tools to play GVFL U/18s, picking up quite a few disposals.
Matt Daniel courageously took the field carrying a shoulder injury that will ultimately require surgery in the off season.
His attack on the football was first class.
Dylan Argus (three goals) provided a focal point in attack and was a threatening force at all times.
Robert Kirby also tried his heart out and was the dominant ruckman on the ground.
Noah Sims gave the side a bit of strength around the contest and Jordan Ridd continued his good run of form.
With the depth of the squad being tested it was a disappointing result, however it is equally important to mention the development of the young pups, and with a full strength team, they have shown they can be a competitive against the best teams.
Score: Tatura 6. 5. (41) lost to Echuca 14. 11. (95).
Goals: D. Argus 3, D. Minutoli 1, J. O’Toole 1, M. Archer 1.
Best: B. McGregor, M. Daniel, R. Kirby, D. Argus, N. Sims, J. Ridd.
No-one was injured following a truck and car crash on Katamatite-Nathalia Rd, Katamatite.
After a tennis career spanning 62 years, of which the last 35 years have been as a coach, Yarrawonga's Jon Coleman is set to retire at the end of 2013.
The recent Kyabram Master Pairs, played over six days with crack sides from near and far, attracted some talented bowlers eager to win the prestige event.
More than a hundred CFA members gathered on Friday night for the Echuca Urban Fire Brigade’s annual dinner.
Rochester couple Tanya and Mick Baker are looking forward to their new venture, wine making.
Kyabram Lawn Tennis Club’s annual junior singles tournament again attracted good numbers from across the district.
The annual chance to meet, mix and ride with world-class cyclists is a success again.
Reigning Murray Valley Cricket Association premier Strathmerton was far too good for Finley on Saturday, registering a 115-run victory.
Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters was presented with a copy of central Victorian residents’ signatures supporting the National Broadband Network last Tuesday.
Cobram's Riding for the Disabled Association has clocked up a quarter of a century of helping those with disability.
The official launch of the Murray Valley Industry Park facility today will see the announcement of the Deni Innovation Expo 2014 date.
SPC Ardmona, is sending eight containers loaded with $250,000 of fruit and vegetables to cyclone ravaged Philippines.
A severe weather warning has been issued for north-east Victoria after a day of heavy rain.
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