The Scott Beattie-coached interleague team held on to record a good 13-point win against Sunraysia on Saturday.LUKE MCMANUS May 26, 2014 3:43am
Murray Football League turned the tide against interleague rivals Sunraysia with a gutsy 13-point win at Mildura’s City Oval on Saturday.
Echuca United’s Farran Priest led the way as Murray turned around a 100-point deficit suffered two years earlier, to prevail in a hard-fought slog, 13.8 (86) d 10.13 (73).
The victory marked Scott Beattie’s second win as interleague coach and a huge step forward in Murray’s rise up the Country Championship rankings.
Murray moved to eighth position on the rankings and sit about two or three spots shy of Beattie’s ultimate goal.
‘‘After the last trip up here, that’s when we identified that something had to be done,’’ Beattie said post-match.
‘‘Sure, we’re two from two in the last two years, but we’ve turned around a 100-point deficit into a win.
‘‘Saying that, we’ve now got guys who are committed to interleague footy, who understand the pride that goes into the jumper and who are playing for all the right reasons.
‘‘Interleague is alive and well and back where it belongs.’’
Beattie’s charges started slowly, allowing Sunraysia to slam on three goals within the first 10 minutes of the opening term.
Murray had its fair share of possession, but poor disposal proved costly as chances went begging with only three behinds managed before the Murray kicked its first goal.
It came through Numurkah’s Brent Chapman, who started on the bench.
Chapman kicked truly from a set shot, then snapped well to convert a second as Murray started to wrestle the momentum away from Sunraysia.
Sunraysia’s five-point lead at quarter-time quickly diminished as Murray’s former AFL talent, Damien Cupido and Brad Dick, came to the fold.
On the wrong side of a few umpiring decisions in the opening term, Cupido found some clear space to kick his first while Dick made the most of three chances — one a dribbling goal from the boundary — to help Murray to a 17-point advantage at the main break.
Boasting superior run, spread and carry, Murray sustained the three-goal margin during the third term, with goals from Leon Johnson and Jackson Gash answering a goal from Sunraysia forward John Coleman (three goals).
Trailing by 17 points at three-quarter-time, Sunraysia lifted to be within eight points, courtesy of two consecutive goals from full-forward Troy Moncur.
Fourth on the Sunraysia Football League’s goal-kicking tally, Moncur had been well held by Murray’s Matt Demaio since kicking the first of the game.
Moncur’s three majors for the afternoon equalled Coleman’s haul, but the duo’s overall impact was limited, as was Sunraysia’s own AFL talent in Shannon Motlop (two goals).
It was a different story at the other end with Dick’s impact on the game proving telling.
The first and last goal of the quarter came from the silky forward’s boot and ultimately sealed Sunraysia’s fate.
Cupido was another key figure in Murray’s forward half, kicking two goals, but was well below his imposing best and beaten by Sunraysia full-back Brendan Rhodes.
Beattie said Priest was Murray’s workhorse while his midfield troupe of Reid Crowe, Dean Moon, Will Gorman and Bryn Barnes-Webb were sound in support.
Demaio, David Ismail, Dan Bowles, John Timeapatau and Murray skipper Ryan Prendergast controlled the backline and was one of the key reasons behind Murray’s win.
‘‘We found a couple of real beauties today,’’ Beattie said.
‘‘It goes to show that there’s a real abundance of talent in the Murray Football League.
‘‘There was three guys who could have played in the under 18 game so our juniors really stood up.
‘‘Our senior boys were also really good. Dicky (Brad Dick) played a really good game, Faz (Farran Priest) is getting to that age where he’s becoming a leader, Prendergast also played well.’’
For Sunraysia, captain Brad Hards was rewarded with a best-on medallion for a stellar performance through the middle. Luck Sicker, Simon Callahan, Jordan Bates and Jesse Vallance were also solid contributors.
Sunraysia coach Matt Walder commended Murray on its ability to gain the ascendancy halfway through the first quarter after a strong start from the hosts.
‘‘Our pressure was great, our intensity was good, we finished off, we were happy at that point,’’ Walder said of the opening stages.
‘‘It was probably the last five or 10 minutes where Murray found a way back in and that hurt us.
‘‘They used the ball better than us through the middle stages of the game, took their chances and we didn’t.’’
■ Murray’s under 18 team was unfortunately not able to match the feats of the seniors, as Sunraysia won 20.8 (128) to 10.8 (68).
Moama’s Keana Hall was named among the team’s best, with teammate Jamarrah Firebrace and Echuca United’s Tom Crilly also taking part in the fixture, which saw the home team race out to a 23-point quarter-time lead and continue on from there.
Murray fought back to win the third term, but Sunraysia lifted its game once again to run out 60-point winners.
Nathalia’s Bowen Smith was his team’s best player, while Levi Middleton (three goals), Dylan Scott, Trent Greening and Clayton Howe were the others to impress.
Mitch Rogerson, Jesse Muscatello and Tom Seaman (four goals) were the best for Sunraysia.
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