Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Bushrangers baptism for Battista

Shepparton's Julius Battista will make his Murray Bushrangers debut tomorrow against North Ballarat Rebels after impressing coach Darren Ogier on the training track.

DAMEN FRANCIS June 13, 2014 3:15am

Shepparton’s Julius Battista makes his TAC Cup debut for Murray Bushrangers tomorrow.

Shepparton’s Julius Battista will make his TAC Cup debut when Murray Bushrangers host a red-hot North Ballarat Rebels at Highgate Recreation Reserve, Craigieburn tomorrow.

The 188cm key position player has made five senior Goulburn Valley Football League appearances for the Bears this season and has forced his way into Bushrangers coach Darren Ogier’s plans.

‘‘Julius has shown himself to be a composed and competent character on the training track and (Shepparton senior coach) Brad (Campbell) has certainly been with him,’’ Ogier said.

‘‘He’ll start in the back half, but he’s a bit of a swingman, so that’s a good thing about Julius.’’

Battista is the Bushrangers’ 23rd man.

The Bushrangers also welcome back Victoria Country forward Josh Schache and Lavington hard nut Brydan Hodgson.

Deniliquin Rams livewire Jake Marshall misses out through concussion, while Benalla’s Brody Webster and Finley’s Al Clarke have been omitted.

David Mennen, Caleb Marchbank and Dan Howe are in Western Australia on Victoria Country duty.

Ogier said Vic Country’s rotation policy was his side’s gain this weekend.

‘‘I saw Josh play on the weekend and he was super. He’s a bottom age player and he’s getting more confidence in himself and his intensity and presence is growing, so it’s good to have him back,’’ he said.

Craigieburn hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Bushrangers this season — they are yet to win a game in two visits to their home away from home — and Ogier said it was important they got to grips with the ground.

‘‘We’ve got quite a few games coming up there, so it’s important we turn that around,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a big ground, with big open spaces and we need to start using that and defending it better as well.’’

The Rebels booted 20 goals straight after half-time to thrash Sandringham Dragons by 89 points last time out to boot the Bushrangers out of the top eight.

The Bushrangers fought the good fight against top side Oakleigh Chargers, but left empty handed.

They got the better of the Rebels at Queen Elizabeth Oval in round four, but Ogier said that result counted for little come tomorrow.

‘‘Team make-up changes quite regularly in this competition, but a lot of their personnel is the same,’’ Ogier said.

‘‘A lot of what they’re doing well is effort-based stuff and that’s what we need to do.

‘‘We won 60 per cent of our (key performance indicators) last round, so we played well, but we didn’t win, so we’re going to have to put them under a lot of pressure and hopefully their game of the millennium from two weeks ago is behind them.’’

In more bad news, Cobram’s Tom Mogg will also miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury.

The lock-down defender suffered the injury playing for Xavier College in his first game back from a strained pectoral muscle and, while at first it seemed innocuous, further testing revealed a damaged anterior cruciate ligament.

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