BARNAWARTHA looks well placed for a crack at successive premierships after bringing down Thurgoona by 24 points in Saturday’s opening round at Barnawartha.
The Tigers, who have lost only a handful of players from last year’s winning team, blew the visitors away in the first-half with recruits Mitchell Exton and Paul Harrington in everything.
They led by as much as 62 points before Thurgoona regained its composure through Ovens and Murray signings Kade Brown and Matt Fowler and added some respectability to the scoreline.
Coach Mark Sarau said he couldn’t have been happier with the way the Tigers started.
“The first half was terrific,” Sarau said.
“We played some really good footy to get out to a good lead and I thought our movement of the ball was spot on.
“Thurgoona is a good side and was always going to come back.
“It’s just pleasing to start with a win.”
Barnawartha dominated general play early with Cameron McNeill and Jack Price prolific around the packs, Nathan Ardern leading well in attack and Danny Demarte holding his own against Fowler.
Exciting Tiger Josh Spence had an absorbing battle with Luke Donnan while youngster James Wells looks a find after stepping up from the under-17s.
Thurgoona was read the riot act by coach Jason Sheather at half-time and the Bulldogs kicked 10 goals to four in the second half with Brown’s long-kicking, Fowler’s brute strength at full-forward and Lucas Mellier’s grit and determination instrumental in the revival.
The win came at a price for the Tigers with backman Jeremiah Madden injuring his collarbone.
Wodonga Saints bounced back from last weekend’s disappointing result with a two-point win against Chiltern.
The Saints led from start to finish with five goals from Matt Jaensch and the workrate of midfielder Charles Kerr and ruckman Hugh Edmondson getting them over the line.
Wayne Shannon and Caleb Boxall were best for the Swans.
Rutherglen kept its unbeaten record intact with a hard-fought eight-point win over Wahgunyah at Rutherglen.
Despite the best efforts of Lion players Heath Northey and Liam Tobias, the Cats continually came up with the answers through the efforts of Josh Quick, Martin Brennan and Dylan Oats.