After a long pre-season culminating in two successful practice games, it was time for the real deal on Sunday and what better test than to play last year’s Kyabram.DOUG MILLER April 9, 2014 3:45am
Tatura ruckman Daniel Flynn and Kyabram tall Jake Reeves go to it in their opening game at Tatura on Sunday. Picture: Michelle Frenkel
The game was played in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd and the contest pitting the past two premiership teams certainly did not let anyone down.
It was a showcase of GVFL football at its best with pressure, intensity and excitement and Tatura’s newest recruit Sonny Whiting (four goals) taking a spectacular mark and showing the home crowd that he will be worth the gate entrance to watch.
The Bulldogs’ new coach Brendan van der Donk was in charge of the senior team for the first time and he was pleased with his team’s performance, but 10-point loss was still a bitter pill to swallow. The Bombers eventually ran out the victors.
Played in perfect conditions, the game opened at a furious pace and it was the superior skill level from the Bombers that allowed them to open up a 16-point lead at quarter-time.
Star forward Paul Newman, who was opposed to Anthony Poppa, looked dangerous early and conversely it was a lack of skill by hand and foot that hurt the Bulldogs.
Van der Donk remained composed at the first break highlighting the fact that his team had dominated the inside 50s and the tackle count, while lamenting the lack of forward pressure that allowed the ball to be swept up field with ease.
The second term opened with skipper Billy Lovel (four goals) slotting through the Bulldogs’ first major for the game.
Lovel proved a headache for the Kyabram defence and looks primed for a big season.
A quick reply to the dangerous Newman was followed by Whiting’s first goal in Bulldog colours and after a lack of goals in the first term, the game was starting to open up.
Just when it looked like the home side was about to work back into the contest, poor skill errors by foot would turn the ball over, allowing the Bombers to press home the advantage opening up a game-high 29 point lead mid second term.
At this stage, the Bulldogs were just hanging in and it was a coaching move that turned the game around.
Paul Kirby moved to full forward and Daniel Flynn, who played his best game in senior ranks, went into the ruck.
This forced the Bombers to rearrange their defence, moving their best defender Jason Morgan on to Kirby, allowing Lovel some freedom and he showed why he will be a great leader and one of the best forwards in the competition after slotting two brilliant pressure goals.
Whiting became lively and it was the Bulldogs who slammed on four unanswered goals to close the gap to a manageable six points at the long break.
The second half had Chris Ryan move onto Newman and he did a solid job keeping him in check.
It was in the second half when the game stepped up a notch and became a shootout, with both sides scoring six goals. The Tatura side opened up a 15-point lead mid-term.
Kirby was inspirational with strong body work and a great chase and run down causing a free kick that led to the amazing mark from Whiting — unfortunately his shot from close range hit the post.
In the blink of an eye the Bombers ran the ball the full length of the field and kicked a relieving goal.
The old stagers, Shannan Broadbent, Linc Wellington and Kirby lifted during this term and showed they still have some top football left in them.
The final term was a dour struggle between two committed teams and it was a 50 m penalty that had Kyabram open the goal-scoring at the four-minute mark. This was followed with another straight away opening up a 15 point lead to the visitors.
The Bulldogs battled hard only to run into a brick wall in the form of a strong Bomber defence.
It was not until the 22-minute mark that Tim Lanyon registered the one and only goal for the term, reducing the margin to 11 points. A quick clearance by Rian McGough had debutant Matt Ryan with a set shot against his old club, but the shot just missed.
With 90 seconds left on the clock the Kyabram side controlled the ball to run out a worthy 10-point victor in an entertaining match between two sides who should play a big part in September.
With several key players set to return over the course of the season, van der Donk is optimistic that his side can be competitive against the top teams.
‘‘There are a lot of positives from the game and I hope, as a group, we learn from that, because they’re the games we’ve got to win to play the big boys,’’ he said.
Score: Tatura 13.10 (88) lost to Kyabram 15.8 (98).
Goals: B. Lovel 4, S. Whiting 4, P. Kirby 2, J. Sullivan 1, S. Broadbent 1, T. Lanyon 1.
Best: S. Broadbent, B. Lovel, S. Whiting, D. Flynn, R. Montgomery, J. Sullivan.
Under coach Darren Kirkpatrick, the Bulldogs fielded an improved line up from last year. Unfortunately, they ran into a young and talented Kyabram outfit first up and after a promising first half where they were within 12 points of the Bombers at the long break, it all turned a bit one-sided.
The Bombers ran out 77-point winners.
Brenton Sheppard provided a focal point early and with Jack Ritchie going hard at the contest and winning plenty of ball along with Alex O’Reilly and the returning Nick Iorianni, who showed some dash and skill, it was a promising first-up effort.
With more training and games under their belts the side are a realistic chance of winning many games.
Score: Tatura 6.7 (43) lost to Kyabram 18.12 (120).
Goals: B. Sheppard 2, A. O’Reilly 1, N. Iorianni 1, J. Thurston 1, C. Mallon 1.
Best: J. Ritchie, C. Mallon, S. Beale, J. Borrelli, J. Pollard, B. Sheppard.
The young pups came up against last year’s premiers and it was evident early Kyabram would be a force again, slamming on nine goals in the first term while keeping the Bulldogs scoreless.
The bigger, stronger bodies were relentless and it was pleasing that the young Bulldogs did not flinch. As the game went longer they became more competitive and throughout the second and third terms they held their own only to be blown away in the final quarter.
With some bigger bodied players to return, it is expected the pups under Robbie Montgomery will improve as the season progresses.
Score: Tatura 2.5 (17) lost to Kyabram 24.7 (151).
Goals: Z. Ballis, J. Pena.
Best: J. O’Toole, L. Borrelli, B. McGregor, J. Pena, A. Rowe, Z. Ballis.
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