Saker and co improve, demolish Magpies

LAVINGTON mounted a strong case that its depth of talent runs deeper than previous seasons in disposing of Wangaratta by 33 points at Norm Minns Oval on Saturday night.

The Panthers lost the corresponding game against the Magpies last season and overcame the pre-match setback of Kade Stevens being forced out with a knee injury.

Lavington pushed Albury to the wire in round 1 and was able to claim its first scalp of the season in comfortably holding the Magpies for the majority of the game.

In fact, the Panthers looked headed for a percentage booster when they kicked the first three goals of the last quarter to establish a game-high margin of 52 points.

Wangaratta was at its most threatening at the start and finish of the match, but for the most part, the Panthers were clearly superior.

Contributors were plentiful with coach James Saker turning in another excellent game to blanket the Magpies’ most potent forward, James Wong.

But, he was far from the lone ranger in the Panther backline as Brant Dickson, John Hunt and Rory Muggivan all played their part.

Young Magpies forward Tom McDonogh kicked four goals, but they came in two bursts in the first and final terms and another up and comer Josh Porter showed some signs of genuine promise.

A long goal on the quarter time siren from Daine Porter reduced the Panthers margin to two points, but the visitors took control in the second term.

David Thayer totally blanketed Panthers key forward Owen Weatherley and the job of hitting the scoreboard was left to their mid-sized players.

Matt Pendergast and Luke Garland made the most of spells up forward to boot two goals each, but two youngsters Tom Hargreave and Tom Yensch booted four goals each.

Two goals from Hargreave were laced with a touch of class.

Lavington ramped up the pressure in the third term by outscoring the Magpies 5.2 to 2.3 to establish a match-winning lead of 34 points at the last break.

The Panthers held a decisive edge on the Magpies in the centre clearances and stoppages as youngster Alex Jones superbly complemented some of his more experienced team-mates.

Lavington coach James Saker said the win was reward for effort.

“It’s a great win for us,” he said. “I’ve been happy with the way we’ve played the first two weeks, but tonight we got the points.”

Stevens has bone bruising on his knee and should return in a fortnight and the Panthers will regain Adam Flagg, Jay Banks and Lewis Gardiner in the weeks ahead.

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