COROWA-Rutherglen served up an early sample of a promising new era by steamrolling Wangaratta in the final quarter at the Norm Minns Oval on Saturday.
The Roos turned a slender six-point advantage at the last change into a 46-point blowout, which again raised question marks on the Magpies’ ability to handle the big moments in games.
The victory was also achieved without new coach Bryce Campbell, who dropped out of the team after being concussed at training on Thursday night.
But plenty stepped up in his absence.
The Roos slammed on seven goals to one in the last-term blitz, including the last six goals of the match, with each being a dagger into the heart of the Magpies, who like their opponents, are eyeing off one of the spots in the bottom end of the top-five this season.
The ambitions of both teams appeared justified after an exhilarating opening quarter when 11 goals were kicked and the Magpies went to the first break with a six-point advantage.
The Roos started better with young sharpshooter James Svarc helping his team open an early 13-point lead before Wangaratta full-forward Joel Harris led the fightback.
The Heidelberg rec-ruit made a sensational entry into the O and M by kicking four goals from a series of strong marks close to goal and forcing the Roos into a switch of opponents at quarter-time.
Mick Collins was rel-ieved of the job by a Roos’ newcomer, Al Austin, and he curbed Harris’ influence for the rest of the match.
But, Corowa-Rutherglen started to get on top further up the ground where fellow recruits James Brain and Chris Marshall were coming under notice.
Brain had 18 touches by half-time and Marshall won plenty of the ball in tight.
Second-year player Sean Kelly also bobbed up with four goals from the midfield.
The Roos threatened to take a stranglehold on the game in the second term when they opened a 17-point lead, but the Magpies kept in touch through the efforts of Matt Grossman, Justin Hoggan and Jamie Allan in his comeback game.
The Magpies were being tested by a series of injuries to captain Matt Kelly, Zack Leitch, Jade Cleeland and Aaron Bra- den, which forced them to the bench for extended spells.
The Roos’ superior fitness levels came to the fore in the final term.
Key forward Luke Ges- tier cut loose in the last term to finish a promising debut with five goals, as did Svarc — including his best in the final quarter.
He beat off a couple of players on the 50-metre arc before drilling a long goal on his deadly left boot to extend the lead beyond 20 points and open the floodgates.
The Roos unearthed another promising home- grown talent in Joe Han- sen, whose pace was evi- dent in the third term when he made a team-lifting chase of Matt Kelly through the centre.
The Magpies’ biggest impediment was sloppy ball use, which gifted their opponents five goals from turnovers.
Campbell said his team reaped the benefit of a big summer.
“The pre-season the players did was enormous,” he said.
“Our fitness got us over the line today and it is going to keep us in games as the season goes on.
“Our contested footy was good when the ball hit the ground.
“I don’t care what happened in the past.
“It is all about the future.”