Shepparton has gained an edge over last year's premier, Bendigo, leading into finals with a comprehensive win.By Hannah Driscoll
Shepparton coach Warren Johnston said the Bulls gained a ‘‘psychological boost’’ with their VicRugby third division win against Bendigo on Saturday.
The Bulls thrashed the reigning division premier at Vibert Reserve in their final home match of the home-and-away season.
Shepparton remains undefeated at the top of the table, while Bendigo is second with four wins.
‘‘As far as the game goes, we will probably face them in the finals, probably grand final or semis,’’ Johnston said.
‘‘It was a good psychological boost for our boys just to keep on top of them.’’
Johnston said the Bulls produced a game of ‘‘really hard, tough rugby’’, where the forward pack did the bulk of the damage.
Shawn Tunumafono scored three tries and Moronae Silaga added another two, while Lee-Roy Huthmann-Grace kicked seven conversions.
Johnston said the youngsters in the team, flankers Tunumafono and cousin Tui Tunumafono and wing Michael Iulio, who is playing his first season, were ‘‘killing it’’ in the last few weeks.
‘‘It’s really good to see young fellas coming through,’’ he said.
One of the team’s veterans, flanker Ben Monananu, was another standout in Saturday’s win.
‘‘Due to the wet conditions we were pretty restricted with our backline, so it was quite hard for them to get into the action,’’ Johnston said.
‘‘I’d really like to meet them again on a dry day. It would have been very interesting.’’
The win was a fitting way to send off lock Daniel Mathers, who is heading to Africa.
Teammate Peter Slade, who will miss the rest of the season after he was injured in a car crash last week, was also at the game.
‘‘He came along and supported the boys, so it was good for him to be there and the boys to get around him,’’ Johnston said.
‘‘He’s in pretty good spirits now.’’
Shepparton is scheduled to play Warrnambool in the next round, but Johnston said a venue was yet to be confirmed.
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