All three Murray Bombers football sides won on Saturday for the first time in 37 months.LUKE MCMANUS June 23, 2014 3:32am
Echuca Football Club had plenty of reasons to celebrate on Saturday after the Murray Bombers’ seniors, reserves and under 18s claimed respective wins against Mansfield.
Echuca’s clean sweep was the club’s first treble since round six 2011, with the Murray Bombers’ 13.13 (91) to 11.8 (74) senior triumph on the weekend capping off two strong wins from the seconds and thirds.
If the result failed to surprise the many supporters and stakeholders enjoying the festivities at Victoria Park, which included a sponsors day, then the shock inclusion of coach Andrew Briggs would have definitely turned some heads.
Briggs, playing his first game since 2011, was a late, but pre-planned inclusion, and he chimed in with two goals for the afternoon, as the ninth-placed Murray Bombers took full advantage of a good start to hold on by 17 points.
‘‘It was really good to be out there, just to offer some support and direction,’’ Briggs said, who last week signed a one-year contract extension.
‘‘It’s something that we’d spoken about for a number of weeks and we thought this weekend was the right time.
‘‘It won’t be every week, I don’t have the ability to that, it’ll be a week to week thing.
‘‘It’s good to be out there and get an understanding of how we go about it on-field.’’
Echuca could have blown Mansfield out of the water in the first quarter, but missed some chances in front of goal, allowing the Eagles to stay within striking distance.
Echuca kicked 3.9 to Mansfield’s 1.0 to take a 21-point lead into quarter-time, a margin which was pegged back in the second term after Mansfield’s responded to an almighty spray from coach Simon Dolling.
Briggs said the inaccuracy shadowed a really positive first quarter.
‘‘Our start was really good,’’ he said.
‘‘The ball spent 21 minutes in our forward half and I think we had 10 tackles inside 50.
‘‘That was really good to see and one of our main focuses during the week.
‘‘We just couldn’t finish off.’’
The Eagles kicked four goals to two ahead of the main break which cut the margin back to just seven points.
Echuca managed to edge away in the second half to secure the four points, despite Mansfield challenging the home side multiple times.
Simon Buckley was a ball magnet and stood up in the absence of co-captains Matt Pollock, who was serving a one-week suspension for striking, and the injured Sam Toulmin.
Buckley was one of the beneficiaries from another notable Kane Morris performance.
Morris’ battle with Mansfield counterpart Mark Jones was a highlight of the match, with Morris’ 20 hitouts servicing the likes of on-ballers Buckley and Tom Stevens.
Small forward Brieghton Shea spent some time in the middle of the ground and was one of the key men who ignited Echuca’s strong start.
Shea finished the day with three goals and with Echuca’s best-on-ground nod.
‘‘That was Brieghton’s most consistent four-quarter effort,’’ Briggs said.
‘‘Around the stoppages early he was superb.
‘‘He has a good centre of gravity and knows how to protect the ball
‘‘He has a damaging right foot on him as well.’’
Ben Fagan was Mansfield’s best across the ground and in front of goal, finishing the afternoon with five majors, while Guy Taylor and David Clarke were notable contributors.
Today at 8.30pm on SBS television the Insight program casts its eye on Shepparton and asks the question: How do you beat the odds in a place where too many kids drop out of school, and not enough of them find jobs?
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Mark Soyer represented Australia at the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Canada.
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