YARRAWONGA coach Chris Kennedy lauded his team’s ruthless defensive effort yesterday after it took apart Wangaratta by 119 points in their Easter Sunday showdown at Mulwala’s Lonsdale Reserve.
While Brendan Fevola’s nine-goal sideshow had hundreds of people walking from one end of the ground to the other after each change to keep tabs on the Pigeon star, Kennedy gained even more satisfaction from keeping the Magpies to just five goals.
“I was really happy with the defensive side of our game,” Kennedy said.
“We kicked a fair few goals but defence is the one thing that we have focused on for three or four years.
“I thought the boys concentrated on that well today.
“Our second quarter was a bit down, but otherwise it was good effort.”
Wangaratta found scoring almost impossible against its bigger opponents with the Magpies taking almost a quarter to score when Louis Vescio grubbed through a major.
It didn’t get any easier as the match progressed as imposing ruckman Brandon Symes gave on-ballers Tim Cooper, Craig Ednie and Xavier Leslie an armchair ride.
They, in turn, gave forwards Fevola, Kayne Pettifer, Drew Barnes and Brad O’Connor endless scoring opportunities with O’Connor’s miraculous snap from the clubrooms boundary early in the final quarter the pick of them.
Fevola finished with 9.4 after having the better of Michael Bordignon and Justin Hoggan while Pettifer always looked to have time on his side as he chipped in with four.
Life was made even tougher for Wangaratta defence brothers Brandon and Damon Symes rested forward and kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Wangaratta midfielder Matt Kelly won more than his share of centre clearances but could only look on in frustration as seconds later it sailed back over his head, thanks to Yarrawonga’s strong rebounding defence.
The only thing that went wrong for the home team was star defender Richard Handreck straining his quad at three-quarter-time of the reserves during the warm-up. He faces weeks on the sidelines.
Talented youngster Connor Hargreaves made a surprise appearance in the reserves for the Pigeons after he looked set to sit out the season while Steve McKee, Craig Whinray and Luke Ednie will also soon press for senior selection.
“Wangaratta was a bit under-manned today, but there were some real positives out of the day for us,” Kennedy said.
“We are starting to get some quality players back and hopefully we can continue to improve.”