Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Bushrangers home by skin of teeth

Murray Bushrangers squandered a 49-point half-time lead, but managed to hang and defeat Sandringham Dragons by two points in their TAC Cup clash on Saturday.

MATTHEW GALEA May 26, 2014 3:05am

Dan Howe was outstanding in his first run through the middle.

Isaac Muller probably didn’t realise it when he kicked it, but his third-quarter goal proved the most important against Sandringham Dragons.

It was Murray Bushrangers’ only scoring shot of the second half, and in the end it proved the difference with the Bushies beating the Dragons by two points to snatch a vital TAC Cup win.

The Bushies were up by 49 points at half-time and were looking the part.

Rennie’s Dan Howe was playing his first game in midfield and shone, while Seymour’s Josh Schache kicked four goals and Brody Webster scored two in the first half.

Nathan Drummond continued his brilliant form from the AFL Under-18 National Championships and drove his team through the middle before his terrible luck with injury struck again.

‘‘He was on fire,’’ Bushies coach Darren Ogier said.

‘‘He’s gone and taken mark of the year and someone has fallen on him from behind and stretched his hamstring.

‘‘He’s hurt and I think he’ll be out for a couple of weeks as a best-case scenario.’’

Drummond’s Victoria Country teammate Caleb Marchbank was also out after pulling up with sore calves, which resulted in Waaia’s Connor Brown being called up from the emergency list.

To compound the issues in midfield, Nick Mellington was shown a yellow card following a centre bounce.

The Dragons responded by turning up the pressure and favouring a possession-based game when in control of the ball.

‘‘They really went with high-possession, short ball use and kept it away from us,’’ Ogier said.

‘‘They kept denying us access and we weren’t good enough defensively to counter attack that.

‘‘From there they got the momentum and we dropped off.’’

Muller’s goal came in the opening 10 minutes of the third quarter and it would be the Bushies’ last score for the day.

The Dragons were relentless after that and only just fell short of the mark.

By three-quarter time, the Bushies’ lead had been cut to 34 points.

By full-time, it was two.

Ogier said the second half drop-off was concerning, but he was relieved to take the four points.

‘‘We achieved what we set out to do which was to get the four points,’’ Ogier said.

‘‘Obviously, you want to play well over four quarters and in the end we were lucky to escape with the win, but our midfield and forward pressure was crucial in that last five minutes, so I was pleased with that.

‘‘We stood up when the game was there to be won in that respect.’’

The win moves the Bushrangers up to seventh on the TAC Cup table with four wins from seven games.

They will travel to Oakleigh next week to take on top-of-the-table Oakleigh Chargers who have won all but one of their opening eight games.

Ogier said he did not expect to have Howe available with another National Championships round coming up and Drummond now injured.

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