The Murray Bushrangers could not enjoy a TAC Cup win in front of Shepparton spectators on Sunday, unable to capitalise on a blistering first quarter.
In front of a sizeable crowd at Deakin Reserve, the Bushrangers took heed of their coaches’ messages before the game to run and carry the ball quickly into the 50 to combat a tall Calder Cannons team.
But an early ankle injury to Shepparton United’s Kyle Clarke would leave the Bushrangers a player down within 10 minutes.
In the first quarter the decreased rotation did not impact on the side’s play, with Clarke’s Demons teammate Zane Barzen thriving on a game at his club’s home ground.
The promising underage player kicked three goals in the opening term, playing in tandem with Barooga tall Daniel Johnston.
Johnston remained a valuable target up forward for the duration of the game, kicking a goal in the first quarter on his way to six for the match.
With Calder scoring two late goals the margin at the first break was 29 points in the Bushies’ favour, although that did not reflect how close the two sides were.
The Cannons kicked the first goal of the second quarter and the away side was spurred on to a comeback, kicking another three close together as Murray no longer had a comfortable margin.
Euroa’s Jett Trotter scored the Bushrangers’ only major of the term as skill errors began to creep into the match.
With the Cannons moving a goal in front at half-time, Murray backline coach Daniel Preston said it was a copy of what happened when the two sides met earlier in the season.
‘‘It’s a game of momentum, we experienced it against this side the first time we played them this year, we had a six-goal lead and the same type of thing happened,’’ Preston said.
‘‘You’re coming up against the best kids in the country and the games are going to have ebbs and flows in your favour and others that aren’t and our ability to slow them down in the transition was probably a disappointing part.’’
To try and turn the game back into the Bushies favour, Shepparton’s Jordon Butts swapped from the backline into the forward line as he had done during this year’s under-18 National Championships.
That move sent Picola United’s Tom Boyd down back, where he gained valuable intercepts as the margin was all level again leading into the final term.
‘‘(Going) back to forward and forward to back, that’s something that shows versatility in their position, so when there’s someone that’s potentially a draft prospect, they’re not pigeon-holed into one position and they both provided something for their team,’’ Preston said.
But while Boyd was the catalyst in defence for a turnover that would result in the Bushies taking back the lead in the final quarter, some missed chances around goal helped Calder take the nine-point win.
Murray Bushrangers: 7.1, 8.5, 12.6, 15.8 (98)
Calder Cannons: 2.2, 9.5, 11.12, 15.17 (107)
Murray Bushrangers: Daniel Johnston, Ben Paton, Jy Lane, Ryan Bruce, Will Donaghey, Nick Murray.
Murray Bushrangers: Daniel Johnston 6, Zane Barzen 3, Jett Trotter, Nick Murray, Joe Richards, Jordon Butts, Jy Lane, Jessy Wilson.