Despite being two wins from top spot, the Rams are now in a fight to make finals.July 29, 2014 4:00am
Deniliquin’s finals hopes took a turn for the worst on Saturday, falling from fourth on the ladder to seventh after a 19-point loss to Echuca United.
The reigning premier ended the Rams’ amazing run of eight consecutive victories to keep the pressure on front-runners Finley and Rumbalara.
Five unanswered goals from the Eagles in the third term broke the game wide open and helped create the match-winning buffer after a closely-contested opening half.
Rams coach Troy Bartlett said his team had plenty of opportunities when going inside its forward 50m.
‘‘Echuca got a bit of momentum in the third quarter and we probably panicked a little bit,’’ Bartlett said.
‘‘We probably lost a bit of our structure going forward.’’
Final score: Echuca United 8.10 (58) def. Deniliquin Rams 5.9 (39).
The Rams stamped their mark on the match in the first quarter, taking a 12-point lead into the first break.
In a blow for the visitors, however, they lost Bartlett early when he was subbed off with a calf injury and ruckman Chris O’Connor was injured just before half-time.
Echuca United clawed its way into the match after adding 2.4 to its score in the second quarter, with the Rams managing 1.4 for a one-goal half-time lead.
The two sides play a similar defensive-style game, but the Eagles took control of the game in the third quarter. They piled on 5.2 while keeping the Rams scoreless.
The Rams fought back in the last quarter and looked to be catching the Eagles when Ben Nisbet had a snap shot at goal, but amid cheers it was declared touched.
Deniliquin still won the last quarter with two goals to one, but couldn’t overcome the deficit.
United’s Brad Sanderson was outstanding at full back, while Bryn Barnes-Webb was strong up forward and booted two goals.
Daniel Cavallaro kept Ram Ash Morris fairly quiet, while Rams onballers Todd Gallagher and Ricky Gittens were solid once again and Eddie Draffin was influential after replacing backman Daniel Jordan in the team.
Despite being two wins from top spot and one win behind United, the Rams face a tough fight to get back inside the top six.
Their run home includes matches against flag fancy Rumbalara and finals hopefuls Barooga and Moama.
The Rams reserves suffered their biggest loss for the year on Saturday, losing to powerhouse Echuca United by 133 points.
Uniteds’ Ben Ridge booted six goals as the home side stormed away with the 22.15 (147) to 2.2 (14) win.
Deni’s Eddie Draffin managed a long goal in the first term before backing up in the seniors game, while veteran Geoff McCallum kicked the team’s second in the last quarter.
Mark Panton was the Rams’ best and Beau Close staked his claim for a seniors berth after a solid return from an ankle injury.
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