Sport

At last, the Echuca we had to have

By Andrew Johnston

One month to make or break the season.

That’s what the Echuca Football Club were saying three weeks ago.

And as shaky as that month started with the big loss to Shepparton, it’s gone according to plan since.

Saturday’s clash with Mansfield would be a huge test for the Murray Bombers.

And didn’t they deliver?

They handed out a 76-point thrashing to the Eagles, a side coming off a stunning upset of 2018 bolters Benalla.

It was in many ways the best result of the year for the Murray Bombers.

A game where, finally, the side put forward a four-quarter performance against a side not in the bottom three.

A six-goal second quarter, and booting 10 goals to three across the second and third quarters, were signs of just how dominant the side was.

And this result will mean so much for the side.

In back-to-back weeks, they’ve had what were essentially eight-point games.

The wins against Rochester and Mansfield have been huge for building Echuca’s season.

The wins mean the side is two wins inside the eight, making it likely they will hold on for a few weeks.

And co-coach Simon Maddox is still talking about the importance of these wins.

‘‘The past two weeks have been huge for us,’’ he said.

‘‘We were really disappointed with the way we played in the Shepparton game.

‘‘We knew what it would have done for our season to get that win, so we’ve been committed to making up for that since then.

‘‘We’ve responded incredibly well and with what was at stake, it was important that we did.’’

So, what’s next — well, it looks like Echuca can only get better from here.

The team will expect to regain Cameron Valentine and Simon Buckley in the next week, or at worst after the bye.

And what’s shocking — especially in the case of Buckley — is the team is winning without him.

‘‘In the past few seasons, if we didn’t have Bucks, we wouldn’t win,’’ Maddox said.

But a return from Buckley will make this team get even better.

‘‘We expect to get him back, and he will go straight to the top of our midfield,’’ Maddox said.

‘‘And when he does, it makes every one of our players play even better.’’

The kids at Echuca are growing fast, the side is improving, and two genuine guns are in line to return.

It’s proof of one thing — the ghost of the old Echuca is gone.