COACH Daryn Cresswell believes Wodonga Raiders are the fittest they have been in his three years at the Ovens and Murray club.
After dismantling Tatura in their opening practice match, the Raiders outgunned Lavington 14.8 (92) to 3.8 (26).
We have had a big pre-season though and worked really hard to get our conditioning up
The Panthers kicked two of their three goals early in the opening term.
“It was a pretty impressive performance,” Cresswell said.
“Our execution and pressure was good against a quality side like Lavington.
“They had a few out and we had a few out and nobody is losing sight of it only being a practice match.
“We have had a big pre-season though and worked really hard to get our conditioning up.
“It’s certainly the fittest I have had the group since I have been here and full credit to the boys because they have taken it on board themselves to do a lot of work outside training hours.”
Mark Doolan and Jackson Kelly were dangerous up forward while Steve Jolliffe and Jydon Neagle won plenty of possessions.
Brock Knights, who has returned to Birallee Park from Sandhurst, injured his quad and will be assessed in the next week.
Wodonga Raiders went into the clash without Brodie Filo, Dean Giles and Max Hillier while Lavington’s absentees included Adam Prior, Kris Holman and Sam Harris.
The Raiders’ form sets up a mouth-watering season opener against reigning premier Albury at Albury Sportsground on April 1.
Yarrawonga’s Luke Congram kicked seven goals in the Pigeons’ comfortable win over Melton South at J.C. Lowe Oval.
At the other end of the ground, former Yarrawonga premiership star Brendan Fevola could only manage one goal as coach of the visitors.
“We kicked away a bit,” coach Chris Kennedy said.
“Generally, we were probably a little fitter and ran out the game well which was pleasing.”
Logan Morey (knee) is the only Yarrawonga player in doubt for round one against Myrtleford due to injury.
“Our depth is a lot better this year,” Kennedy said.
“Besides Logan, we should have everyone right for round one.”
Wangaratta Rovers lost promising youngster Will Nolan to an ankle injury in their loss to Shepparton United.
Nolan was in fine form before being hurt in the third quarter.
Milawa recruit Ben Clark played well for the Hawks.
“Shep United is a pretty handy side and we took some positives out of it,” coach Sam Carpenter said.
“It was an encouraging hit-out and we’re looking forward to playing Wodonga Raiders this weekend.”
Lachie Dale starred with five goals in Myrtleford’s 102-point thumping of Corowa-Rutherglen.
Wodonga, with Steve Murray and Jarrod Hodgkin firing, defeated Mulwala and Aberfeldie beat North Albury.