NORTH Albury had its first hiccup under new coach Jason Akermanis on Saturday.
The Hoppers, missing several of their best players, lost to Essendon and District league club Aberfeldie by 40 points at Jindera.
Akermanis, coaching against three-time premiership teammate Mal Michael, was prominent in the midfield for the Hoppers while Kane Godde’s stellar pre-season up forward continued with a seven-goal haul.
Former Chiltern coach Brian Durbidge and lively forward Jethro Calma-Holt also impressed.
Jason Gram, Matt McDonald, Adam Prior, Andrew Thompson and Kade Brown were just a handful of players missing for North Albury.
Wodonga, meanwhile, went down at home to reigning Goulburn Valley league premier Tatura by 27 points.
In a further blow for the Bulldogs, Tom Wortmann’s torrid run with injury continued when he suffered a fractured cheekbone.
He was rushed to hospital after copping an accidental blow and is likely to miss the first two months of the season.
The Bulldogs held their inaugural Hall of Fame night on Saturday night.
Brian Gilcrist, Frank Elkington, Mick Bone, Ernie Whithead and John Flower were all inducted, with Flower receiving legend status.
Wangaratta Rovers beat Benalla by six goals under lights on Friday.
Ryan Stone booted four majors for the Hawks.