THERE was good news and bad on the injury front as Corowa-Rutherglen bounced back to the winners’ list with a 20-point win over Wangaratta Rovers at John Foord Oval on Saturday.
The Roos, who were desperate to atone for last week’s loss to Wod- onga, suffered a major blow when coach Bryce Campbell sustained what looked to be a serious hamstring injury at the 17-minute mark of the first term.
But star recruit James Brain acted as the runner and appeared to be untroubled by the knee injury that has sidelined him since round 2.
He is likely to line up in the reserves against North Albury this week before playing against Lavington in round 18.
Corowa-Rutherglen conceded two quick goals after Campbell’s injury, which saw him on crutches after feeling it in the warm-up. And the Roos could have been up against it after the Rovers dominated early in the second term.
But when they managed just four behinds, the Roos took over, kicking seven unanswered goals either side of half-time to lead by as much as 32 points in the third.
Rovers weren’t without injury worries, either, with Jarrad Boumann (hip) hurt in the warm-up and succumbing just before half-time, while Sam Dunstan (ribs) went off about the same time.
Brain’s younger brother, Jed, was outstanding for the Roos, with his run and carry a feature, and Brett Zorzi dominated in the clinches.
Kade Kuschert was in vintage touch in defence with at least a dozen marks, while Alastair Austin had the better of Daniel Archer (2.5), despite the big Hawk wasting many chances. Lachie McLarty blunted Alex Marklew.
Luke Gestier (3.5) was also off-target, but he was a key contributor because he gave Tyson Hartwig, James Mulligan, Boumann and James Smith numerous headaches.
“We were looking for a response after last week. We wanted a competitive effort and our start was good,” Roos assistant Troy Maiden said.
“We looked at the Wodonga game and the things we had to work on — we needed to get back our competitiveness, which has been our real strength this year.
“There’s a good feeling at the club. It’s improving all the time and it’s great to be in the finals.”
Sam Carpenter did his best to stem the tide and was the Rovers’ best, while Shane Gaston wore down Jarred Lane in another quality display.
Ryan Cobain, in his first senior game for 14 months, got better as it went on and could hold his head high.
The Rovers’ coach Paul Maher said his team had stopped playing accountable football.
“We zoned off a bit down back, some of our backs would admit it wasn’t their best game,” he said.
“We got back into it and when we chipped the ball around and hit our targets, we looked OK. After a poor game we were still only 20 points away.
“When Bryce went off, the Roos lifted.
“That’s a great sign of respect for their coach.”
Goals: COROWA-RUTHERGLEN: Gestier 3, Filliponi, D. Wilson 2, Campbell, Brain, Prescott, Marks, Hansen, Collins. WANGARATTA ROVERS: Sheahan, Archer 2, Wilson, Carpenter, Dornauf, Bishop, Marklew, Smith.
Best: COROWA-RUTHERGLEN: Jed Brain, Kuschert, Zorzi, Austin, Kinsella, Kelly, Lane, Gestier. WANGARATTA ROVERS: Carpenter, Gaston, Cobain, Wilson, Martin, O’Keeffe.
Injuries: COROWA-RUTHERGLEN: Singe (hamstring) replaced in selected team by Cook, Campbell (hamstring). WANGARATTA ROVERS: Dunstan (ribs), Boumann (hip).
Crowd: 700 estimated at John Foord Oval.