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Bushrangers on top in arm wrestle

Murray Bushrangers have overcome heavy conditions and NSW-ACT Rams to bounce back to winning ways in their TAC Cup clash at Lavington.

DAMEN FRANCIS May 12, 2014 3:05am

Murray Bushrangers returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 11-point win against NSW-ACT Rams at Lavington Sports Ground on Saturday.

The late withdrawal of injured pair David Mennen and Jim Carroll meant the Bushrangers made a total of seven changes to the side that was soundly beaten by Calder Cannons the previous week.

The return of Dan Howe was arguably the most significant and the Rennie defender made a real difference to the back six, which performed superbly in trying conditions.

Only 15 goals were scored for the game and just one in the final quarter, with the game very much in the balance.

‘‘It rained on and off for the first three quarters and pretty heavy for the last quarter,’’ Bushrangers coach Darren Ogier said.

‘‘The boys were talking about how heavy the footy was in the last quarter.

‘‘We gave them a couple of easy goals when they were hard to come by, but we were able to readjust that and get the win.’’

Nathalia’s Tom Nihill and Waaia’s Connor Brown were the late inclusions and made their respective TAC Cup debuts.

Ironically Nihill got his call on Thursday afternoon, after a clash with Mennen at training on Wednesday night left the silky Benalla on-baller with a sore ankle.

Brown got word of his call-up on Thursday night, after Jim Carroll tweaked a hamstring in the final training session of the week.

Ogier was impressed with the players making the most of their opportunities.

‘‘They’re good mates, they go to school together and travel over for training together, so it was good they got selected together,’’ he said.

‘‘They both played their roles and had an impact. Tom laid a full body smother in the last quarter and we managed to get an inside-50 from it and Connor had some important touches, particularly in the last quarter.’’

Caleb Marchbank and Mitch Mahady stood out in key position roles in defence, with Marchbank patrolling centre half-back and Mahady closer to goal.

Shepparton Swan Henry Peni and Benalla’s Brody Webster kicked two goals each, while Nathan Drummond continued his stellar run of form in the middle of the ground.

Drummond will look to carry that form into round one of the AFL Under-18 National Championships on Sunday.

He and Mennen — if fit — will start for Victoria Country against Victoria Metro at Princess Park.

Seymour forward Josh Schache was named an emergency.

The Bushrangers go into next weekend’s competition-wide bye with three wins and three losses from six games and occupying eighth spot on the ladder.

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