MYRTLEFORD chalked up its first win for the season with a comfortable 30-point win over Wodonga at John Flower Oval.
In a game that reflected both teams’ position on the ladder, it was the plucky Saints who showed more football smarts to win an untidy spectacle.
The Saints’ victory had even more merit attached to it, with co-coach Brad Murray a late withdrawal from the selected side due to an ongoing hamstring complaint.
Murray, who felt a slight twinge at training on Tuesday evening, trained on Thursday but decided to give it one more week off and put his 100th match milestone on hold.
“I just thought playing and re-injuring the leg might mean another month out of footy and that’s something myself and the team don’t want,” Murray said.
“Although it was frustrating not being out there, I was confident that the work we did in the build up would be enough to get us home.
“The young blokes who had specific roles to play really stood up and along with good inclusions into the team we were confident going into the match of breaking the drought.”
The game, despite its lack of polish, was a fierce and rugged contest with several scuffles breaking out during a fiery encounter.
One incident that stirred emotions was when Wodonga’s Jake Hicks was felled during the third term after a crude tackle on centre wing. He left the ground on a stretcher.
Myrtleford dominated the majority of the first half, kicking six of the game’s first seven goals, but could not quite deliver the knock-out blow before half-time.
Sam Wortmann gave Wodonga some momentum going into the long break with the final two goals of the half.
Tim Kindellan got the first of the third quarter with a long-range shot, before Mitch Dalbosco replied.
The game soon livened up, with Zach Jones and Tyrone Price helping the Bulldogs get the margin back to just 12 points.
However, some great lead-up work that started at half-back from the Saints saw Hayden Murray mark and goal seconds before the three-quarter-time siren.
Tim Madden added another in the opening minute of the final term before Dalbosco sealed the result.
Saints’ captain Matt Dussin was a tower of strength with solid support from Jarrod Hayse, Hamish Leahy and the Murray boys Hayden and Travis.
Sam Wortmann, with three goals, was Wodonga’s best and only effective forward, while coach Ben Hollands, Zach Jones, John Pratt and Jack Russell had an impact.
“Right now we are the worst team in the competition and all we can do is keep shuffling the side around until we get the best mix,” Hollands said.
“Our boys felt the pressure of expectation today and just did not deliver.”