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NAB League | Bushrangers prepare for Falcons litmus test

Huge test at hand: Bushrangers coach Mark Brown is hoping his team will once again bring the fight as it travels south to take on Geelong Falcons. Photo by Aydin Payne

For Mark Brown and his Murray Bushrangers, this weekend presents yet another monumental challenge, as they make the venture south to take on the second-placed Geelong Falcons at Avalon Airport Oval.

Returning to the winners’ list with a gutsy 10-point win over Bendigo Pioneers in Mildura last week, the Bushies boys will head into this clash with their heads held high, with a victory having the potential to catapult them up into third spot on the NAB League ladder.

Set to once again sport an inexperienced line-up due to the ongoing under-18 national championships, Brown said he was unsure what to expect from this weekend’s match.

“It is going to be a very tough challenge, but we come into this clash with a bit of confidence having had a pretty strong recent record against Geelong,” Brown said.

“They are tracking well this year, but similarly to us, they will have a few out on national championships duty, so we aren’t too sure what to expect from them.

“But we’re really confident that with whatever side we roll out we will get a very competitive performance.”

Embracing the contest has been a major focus for the Bushrangers all season long, with their ability to compete with the competition’s best sides standing out to the coaching staff.

With so many starters unavailable, the past month has also seen the emergence of a number of underagers, with Shepparton United’s Oscar Ryan leading the way after a breakout performance last week.

Undergoing a lot of instability in team selection, Brown said his team was starting to build a reputation of competing hard from start-to-finish.

“Over the past month I think we have really built a trademark of putting in maximum effort and being a team that is hungry for the contest,” he said.

“So once again we will be wanting to see that from the boys this week, and hopefully we can see a few more of our underagers really take that next step at NAB League level.

“It will without doubt be a tough contest this weekend, and we will embrace it.”

As for where he thinks his side needs to improve ahead of this pivotal match-up, Brown said the focus would be around making the most of their inside-50s.

“All year we’ve had really good midfield ascendancy and our backs have been really impressive as well, we’ve threatened in front of the footy but I think we need to get a bit more continuity in attack,” he said.

“An area we have fallen down is that connectedness between our mids and forwards, but that is something that just takes time.

“It is probably the final piece of the puzzle and something we will continue to improve.”

Murray Bushrangers take on Geelong Falcons on Sunday afternoon, with the first bounce at Avalon Airport Oval at 12.30pm.