Bushrangers looking to slay the Dragons

September 09, 2017

The Murray Bushrangers are familiar with facing the Sandringham Dragons in TAC Cup finals.

Murray lost to the Dragons in last year’s grand final and will come up against the side in tomorrow’s elimination final at Eureka Stadium in Ballarat.

Bushies coach Leon Higgins is happy with his side’s season and its entry into finals despite not having won since July.

Injuries throughout the season to key players has hampered the side’s consistency as it headed to a fifth-place finish.

‘‘It has been a successful season I think so far, to say at the start of the year we’d be playing finals after winning 10 games I’d have taken that, although where we were six weeks ago I would’ve liked to have won a couple more games,’’ Higgins said.

‘‘It certainly has through the middle of the year been a bit of a struggle with a couple of guys with various injuries.’’

Shepparton’s Jordon Butts is a significant out for the match, having sustained a head knock during last week’s match against Gippsland Power.

He failed to take the field in the second half and, as a result, the Bushies will miss his ability to swing between both ends of the ground.

Benalla’s Patrick Warner comes back into the side to provide some spark in the forward line in the absence of Barooga’s Daniel Johnston.

‘‘We’ve been looking at getting some speed in our forward line and he (Warner) showed glimpses with what he has done for us in the past, hopefully that presence will be there for a longer period of time,’’ Higgins said.

North Albury’s Ben Paton is also a major inclusion for the elimination final, joining Laitham Vandermeer in the midfield with the Mooroopna talent in a purple patch of form.

Shepparton United’s Zane Barzen and Kyle Clarke will again play major roles as some of the many underage players in the squad.

‘‘We’ve got nine bottom age players in the team, we only had two or three in the grand final (last year),’’ Higgins said.

‘‘Hopefully those boys will benefit from the experience of playing in their underage year.

‘‘While we’ve been a bit unlucky with injury it’s great to offer the bottom age players an opportunity.’’

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