Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Tongala faces test from premiers

Tongala will get an early test when it faces Echuca United in a Murray Football League round one clash on Saturday.

April 9, 2014 3:41am

Tongala recruits Elijah Edwards, Donald Mungatopi, Bronson Mungatopi and Corey Atkinson-Harlen have shown good signs during the club's pre-season build up ahead of Saturday's home first round clash with reigning premier Echuca United.

Tongala coach Dave Newman is looking forward to a good test when his side takes on reigning premier Echuca United at home on Saturday in round one of the Murray Football League season.

The Blues started last season well, but struggled mid-season before picking up two wins against top six teams and pushing other finals contenders close in the final rounds.

‘‘We had seven wins last year and I’m definitely looking for improvement to at least 10 or 12 this year,’’ Newman said.

New signing Elijah Edwards has been impressive in pre-season in a forward role alongside Andrew Reid, who is returning to the seniors at full forward after playing most of the past two seasons in the reserves.

Donald and Bronson Mungatopi, who have joined Blues from Tiwi Bombers, showed some good touches in their one practice match, while Corey Atkinson-Harlen has also slotted in well and impressed Newman with his tackling in midfield.

At the back, 2008 O’Dwyer medallist Darryl Harrison has returned to Tongala from Mooroopna and will add some extra experience and quality, while Ben Holman has moved across from Kyabram.

Steve Townsend is also back in the squad having recovered from an injury that ruled him out for most of last season.

There are also suggestions more new recruits may be coming.

The core squad of local players has a familiar look to it with last year’s best and fairest Jordan Souter and other past club champions Adam Lovison and Jimmy Cullum, along with Luke McGill.

Newman will also hope for more game time himself after recovering from a groin injury and give more game time to promising young players Connor Cowley, Ben Gledhill, Jordan Mullholland and Bryce Denham.

Tongala’s main losses from last season’s squad are top goalkicker Matt Andrews and hard-working midfielder Tom Donnell.

Newman said the squad had worked a lot harder on building fitness in his second pre-season in charge.

‘‘We probably learned quite fit enough to run with some of the sides we faced last year,’’ he said.

‘‘But we’ve had three tough practice matches against good opposition and the boys are raring to go.’’

Tongala is also expected to unveil its new guernsey design on Saturday.

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