Murray Bushrangers charge into TAC Cup grand final

ROCK SOLID: Defender Ryan Garthwaite turned in another strong performance for the Bushrangers in their 44-point win over Oakleigh. Pictures: STEPHEN HICKS

ROCK SOLID: Defender Ryan Garthwaite turned in another strong performance for the Bushrangers in their 44-point win over Oakleigh. Pictures: STEPHEN HICKS

THE Murray Bushrangers will play their first TAC Cup grand final since 2008 after surging past the Oakleigh Chargers in Melbourne on Saturday.

A stirring six-goal performance from Lachie Tiziani guided the Bushies into next Sunday’s decider against Sandringham.

Oakleigh simply didn’t get a look in as the Bushrangers dominated throughout the middle of the game, claiming a 15.12 (102) to 8.10 (58) win.

Three of Tiziani’s bag of six game within five minutes of each other in the second quarter, breaking the game open and giving the Bushies a five-goal buffer at the main break.

They kept the foot down in the third quarter, piling on another five goals to one.

Fletcher Carroll led the way in the middle of the ground, doing plenty of grunt-work to rack up 26 touches while Max Lynch had a day out in the ruck.

Lynch played a lone hand after Esava Ratugolea was a late withdrawal due to illness.

Murray Bushrangers talent manager Lee Fraser said the side put some nerves early in the game behind them to gain the ascendancy by half-time.

“It was a special effort from Lachie Tiziani, his three goals in the second quarter gave us a break and some real confidence heading into the second half,” he said. 

“Being five goals up at half-time was excellent, but the boys really went on with it in the third quarter.

“Max Lynch was very strong, he did it more or less by himself all day but was still able to get forward and kick a goal.

Murray Bushrangers coach Leon Higgins talks tactics with his players at quarter-time during Saturday's preliminary final in Melbourne.

Murray Bushrangers coach Leon Higgins talks tactics with his players at quarter-time during Saturday's preliminary final in Melbourne.

“Zach Sproule was very good at half-back as well, particularly early on.”

With the Bushies a red-hot chance for their first flag since their 2008 triumph, Fraser said the current squad had come a long way to get there.

“There’s no doubt our last two games have been our best for the season,” he said.

“We’ve gotten a lot of guys back at the right time, they’re re-grouped and shown their quality.

“We’ve got a real core of leaders in guys like Carroll, Isaac Wallace, Will Brodie, Louis Pinnuck and Harry Boyd.

“They’ve been driving the standard for this team.” 

Sandringham didn’t have it quite so easy, coming from 10 points down at the last change to defeat Geelong by 22 points.

There's no doubt our last two games have been our best for the season. Everyone has stepped up. - Lee Fraser

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