Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Bushrangers out to sting Rays

Murray Bushrangers hit the road tomorrow on a mission to try and pull the rug out from under Dandenong Stingrays.

DAMEN FRANCIS July 4, 2014 3:10am

Murray Bushrangers regain overage state representatives Nathan Drummond and Kieran Ellis for their toughest road trip of the season this weekend.

The Bushrangers travel to Shepley Oval to take on Dandenong Stingrays in round 13 of TAC Cup, on the back of a six-day break.

It represents a major challenge for the young Bushrangers outfit, which is still without nine stars that pulled on the boots for NSW-ACT or Victoria Country at Wednesday’s final round of the AFL Under-18 Championships, as well as captain Nick Mellington, who plays VFL for Richmond.

‘‘They’ve got some talent and all their private school kids back as well as half-a-dozen Vic Country kids,’’ Bushrangers coach Darren Ogier said.

‘‘It’s a big road trip and a good home-ground advantage for them. It’s a small, tight ground and they play it well.

‘‘It’s a big game, but we want to play them at their best, so it’s a good challenge.’’

Drummond and Ellis played for Country and NSW-ACT respectively on Friday and Saturday last week, but were left out on Wednesday, freeing them up for a TAC Cup return.

Their availability is a major boost for the travelling side, in terms of their ability and leadership.

The Bushrangers lose Jay O’Donoghue and Julius Battista to a compulsory week off for concussion and named an extended squad of 26 that was due to be cut down last night.

A hard-fought two-goal win against Northern Knights last week kept the Bushrangers in touch with the top eight and within a game of Western Jets in fourth and the fifth-placed Stingrays.

Dave Mennen, Jake Marshall, Marty Brennan and Brody Webster had 22 possessions each in the win, while debutant Levi Middleton (seven tackles), Shaun Mannagh (seven), Connor Brown (six) and Tom Nihill (six) were brilliant with their pressure without the ball.

‘‘Our effort last week was pretty good. We’ve got to make that count and back that up this week and that’s the challenge for young players,’’ Ogier said.

‘‘We’re buoyant from last week and about our chances.’’

Benalla’s Caleb Marchbank finished with 13 disposals with 77 per cent efficiency in Country’s loss to Western Australia on Wednesday night, including nine contested possessions and three tackles.

Rennie’s Dan Howe had nine touches at a disposal efficiency of 89 per cent, but had a good enough impact on the game to be named in Country’s best.

Howe hurt a foot and will be assessed before he returns to TAC Cup duty next week.

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