Coach kicks winning goal as Rams tame Lions in thriller.SAM HALL July 8, 2014 8:00am
It was a clutch kick for goal and you wouldn’t have wanted the Sherrin in anyone else’s hands.
The ever-reliable Rams playing-coach Troy Bartlett pulled in a strong pack mark about 40m from goal, directly in front, and hammered it home.
His side was trailing by a point with less than two minutes on the clock against home side Mulwala, which squandered its chances in front of goal.
Bartlett’s major was enough to seal victory for the Rams, which had to defend bravely in the final two minutes as the Lions had two failed attempts on goal to cut the margin to three points by the final siren in what was an absolute heart-stopper in round 12 of the Murray Football League.
The unlikely win cemented the Rams a game clear in fourth spot on the ladder and was the club’s seventh victory on the trot.
Bartlett said it was not a pretty game of football, but his side dug deep for the win on the heavy Mulwala ground.
‘‘The backline particularly was good,’’ Bartlett said.
‘‘They were under the pump at certain stages.’’
Ram Daniel Jordan kept Will Farrer to two goals, while Lion Ben James was excellent across half-back.
Inaccuracy on goals proved costly for the Lions, leaving co-coach Chris McNamara scratching his head.
Farrer, in particular, squandered three prime chances in front of goal in the third quarter.
‘‘We can’t blame anything for our kicking,’’ McNamara said.
‘‘A lot of them were set shots, easy shots, but we kicked badly all day,’’ McNamara said.
Scores: Deniliquin 12.10 (82) to Mulwala 10.19 (79).
The first quarter set a cracking pace with both sides playing on at all costs and using the centre corridor.
Ash Morris kicked a goal on the run from 40m, his second for the term, to see the Rams hold a seven-point lead at the first change.
There was no better player on the field than last year’s O’Dwyer medallist Morris up until half time. The speed machine played permanent forward and also slotted two roving goals in the second term, one of them a brilliant left-foot snap from deep in the pocket.
Both sides played handsome football to kick five goals apiece in the second term with Deni leading by a goal at half time.
Mulwala had its chances in the third term but kicked a wayward 2.6, which was the story of the day for the Lions with high-flying Farrer the worst offender.
A Rick Gittens snap for goal was followed by another major from Jack Tyndall just before three-quarter time gave the visitors a one-point lead.
Mulwala managed to snare the first two goals in a dire last quarter, but the Rams stayed in the contest and whittled the Lions’ lead down to 11 points with about four minutes left on the clock.
Sensing the urgency to score, Bartlett moved himself and star onballer Ollie Draffin forward and Morris and full forward Brett Macdonald to the midfield .
Draffin marked on the lead about 35m out and goaled. From the centre bounce the ball basically landed on Draffin’s chest again in the same position but the usually reliable left-footer missed.
The Rams won the ball back from the kick-in and landed it in the hot spot where Bartlett marked and finished.
The Lions scrambled another two misses on goal to fall three points short.
‘‘It’s always good to beat Mulwala at Mulwala .
‘‘We’re learning how to win the close ones and we’re playing a good team game and playing for the right reasons — for each other and the club.
‘‘We can now enjoy a week’s break (bye) before we reload.’’
Draffin, Jack Tyndall and Tyler Amor-Beale starred for the Rams through the midfield, while Morris with four goals was as important as anyone on the field.
Dan Jordan, who left the ground late in the match with a hip injury, did a super job in the key defensive post. He and Jayden Pitts quelled the influence of Farrer and Chase Strawhorn respectively, while Brayden Hall was another of the Rams’ best at centre half back.
Gittens, Todd Gallagher and Darcy Bell also gave the visitors plenty of drive when needed.
Key backman Josh Hammond was Mul’s best alongside onballers Jackson Weir and Sean Robinson (three goals).
Lions coach McNamara said his side had enough of the ball, but could not make it count on the scoreboard. The Lions booted six points in a row before kicking a major score in the third quarter.
‘‘They probably just beat us through the midfield in that second quarter,’’ McNamara said.
‘‘We probably matched them in the last half.’’
The highlight to come from the Rams reserves’ 52-point loss to Mulwala was the form of star ruckman Anthony Bull.
Bull, a senior premiership captain in 2011, was named best on ground and looks to have overcome the groin complaints that have kept him out of action for the first half of the season.
He is almost a certain starter in the senior side following the bye.
Other good players for the Rams were forward Benji Hardman, key defenders Mark Panton and Jason Allitt, and midfielders Mitch O’Brien and Ed Walmsley.
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