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Undermanned Echuca United catch Cats by tail

Echuca United coach Scott Beattie was a happy man on Saturday after his depleted Eagles were able to overcome previously undefeated Finley.

DAMEN FRANCIS May 19, 2014 3:15am

An understrength Echuca United flexed its considerable premiership muscle with a 26-point win against previously unbeaten Murray Football League ladder-leader Finley on Saturday.

Josh Rankin was a late withdrawal for the clash at Echuca South Recreation Reserve, ruck-key forward Ash Kirchhofer also didn’t play and the home side was still without Rowan Priest and Toby Gilmour.

‘‘We didn’t have our best side in, but I thought we controlled the game after quarter-time,’’ Eagles coach Scott Beattie said.

‘‘It’s certainly an upside that we were able to beat an unbeaten side without our best team.’’

The opening term was a genuine arm-wrestle, with both sides managing just three behinds between them.

The game opened up in the second term, with the Eagles holding a four-point lead at the main break.

Finley had its chances in the third term, but Echuca United won the term by four points and kicked away in the last.

Farran Priest’s five goals proved the difference as far as the scoreboard was concerned, but it was the work of Russell Eden, Ryan Prendergast, Brad Sanderson and co in the Eagles’ back six that was the key to taking the points.

The Cats boast three dangerous talls in Tom Seccull, Tim Robertson and Doug McLean, but they managed just one goal each for the day.

‘‘It might look like they had a lot of points, but quite a few were rushed by us as well,’’ Beattie said.

‘‘Our backmen were in control for most of the day, they plucked a few opportunities through their smalls, but they’ll be the first to admit they didn’t kick well to their tall blokes.’’

Cats coach Damian Sexton felt his side had its chances.

‘‘It was until the last five minutes,’’ Sexton said.

‘‘You’ve got to take your chances in front of goals and we missed a few blatant easy ones to put on a bit of scoreboard pressure.

‘‘I was hanging on our three good forwards that they could catch it a bit more than they did. They were getting their hands to a few, but not clunking them and to flood back like Echuca United did and the pressure the likes of Prendergast put on make it difficult.’’

As well as the back six, ruckman Clayton Zanella, Bryn Barnes-Webb and veteran Dean Moon stood out at different stages for Beattie.

Jordan Daniel, Mick Littlejohn and Levi Middleton were best for Finley.

The Cats were without midfield-forward Reid Crowe, who was suspended for rough conduct at the league tribunal on Wednesday night.

Crowe was given a two-match ban, with one suspended, meaning he is free to represent the league in its AFL Victoria Country Championships clash with Sunraysia this weekend, should he get picked.

Saturday’s loss dropped Finley from first to fifth on the ladder, showing just how even this year’s competition is.

Five teams have a win-loss record of 5-1 going into the interleague bye, with Echuca United on top.

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