Murray Bushrangers produced a mighty effort to get within two points of Dandenong Stingrays on Saturday.
Shepparton United speedster Kyle Clarke was instrumental in ensuring the Bushies nearly secured a stunning comeback.
Bushrangers coach Leon Higgins shifted Clarke from defence into the midfield with his side 27 points down at three-quarter-time.
‘‘He went into the midfield, although he started back, but I just thought we needed more speed,’’ Higgins said.
‘‘He’s been in good form and was looking for some mid time, but we just had to find it.’’
The Bushies kept Dandenong to just a goal during the last term at Shipley Oval, while adding five as they tried to offset undisciplined second and third quarters.
Another Demons gun in Ed Adams held his own during the match, with Higgins trialling him across the half-forward and half-back lines, as well as on a wing.
‘‘I think we could see Ed off half-back, he’s got good ball use and he could use his hard running to play as an outside midfielder,’’ Higgins said.
Fellow debutant Patrick Warner had his first match cut short, as the Benalla product suffered a serious ankle ligament strain that could keep him out for a month.
Having kicked a goal in the opening term, Higgins said the forward was looking dangerous before his injury, while his Saints teammate Mark Marriott earned high praise.
‘‘Mark Marriott was terrific, we had two bottom-age ruckmen so it was a good contest, he had 32 hit-outs and kicked a couple of goals, so he’s putting some polish on his efforts,’’ he said.
Both clubs were required to play a minimum of 11 underage players during the match, which was played during the TAC Cup’s first Futures Round.
●Benalla’s Rebecca Webster starred in Victoria Country’s defeat of Victoria Metro at the AFL Women’s under-18 Championships on Saturday.
Country won by 27 points in round one of the championships Simonds Stadium, with a joint NSW/ACT team up next on July 12.
Scores: Murray Bushrangers v Dandenong Stingrays
Murray Bushrangers 4.2, 5.4, 9.5, 14.7 (91)
Dandenong Stingrays 4.2, 9.4, 13.8, 14.9 (93)
Murray Bushrangers: Kyle Clarke, Alex Paech, Mark Marriott, Angus Hicks, Doulton Langlands, Ryan Bruce.
Murray Bushrangers: Hudson Garoni 3, Daniel Johnston 3, Mathew Walker 2, Mark Marriott 2, Jessy Wilson, Jy Lane, Patrick Warner, Bailey Frauenfelder.