A NEW-look North Albury dispelled any doubts about its competitiveness this season with an emphatic 42-point victory over Wodonga at John Flower Oval on Saturday.
With only eight members of last year’s losing elimination final team playing, the young Hoppers looked anything but easy-beats as they put a tumultuous off-season behind them by running their opponents ragged.
They finished with 29 scoring shots to 12 to re-affirm the faith coach Jason Akermanis has kept in his list.
“There was a lot to like out there today,” Akermanis said.
“I’m pleased they got the result they deserved because they have earned it.
“Externally everyone thinks we are going to be terrible but people external to the club don’t know what we do or the programs we have in place.
“There is no use listening to any of that because it’s not right.
“We can only say that when we are winning though.
“Winning solves a lot of problems.”
With Murray Bushrangers trio Isaac Muller, Mitch Mahady and Shaun Mannagh bringing further energy to North Albury’s stocks, the Hoppers dominated general play early but could only take a six-point lead into half-time.
The scoreboard pressure finally arrived in the third quarter when they kicked 5.7 to 1.2 to reward the efforts of Kristian Cary, Rory Feltwell, Clay Moscher-Thomas, Lachlan Taylor-Nugent and Jordan Harrington.
Speedster Jarrah Maksymow played deep in attack for the second successive week and looked dangerous when presented with one-out opportunities against Zach Jones while skipper Dan Leslie looked ominous nearby but was let down by inaccurate kicking.
Muller, who has been in outstanding form for the Bushrangers, dominated the ruck hit-outs against experienced opposition and Jethro Calma-Holt and Simon Mitchelhill held sway in defensive posts.
Wodonga looked slow and struggled to hit targets when moving forward, with Nathan McKendrick’s performance in defence one of the few positives for the Bulldogs.
Akermanis admitted he was concerned by the Hoppers’ inaccuracy in front of goal.
“Scoreboard pressure is so important, particularly when you are dominating,” he said.
“We missed shots and had two out on the full.
“Of course I was worried.
“Hopefully we can get that right next week.”