Wangaratta charges when it counts

WANGARATTA made an early bid to avoid the wooden spoon by overpowering an equally desperate Myrtleford by 24 points at McNamara Reserve.

The Magpies confronted some demons when they conceded the first two goals of the third quarter to slide 10 points behind the Saints. Both teams went into the Anzac Day battle without a win.

Wangaratta has built an unwanted recent record of melting in the big moments, but Wangcaptain Matt Kelly stepped up when his team needed him most.

Wangaratta skipper Matt Kelly.

Wangaratta skipper Matt Kelly.

He kicked back-to-back goals — one a beauty from the scoreboard pocket — to put the Magpies back in front and on the road to their first win of the season.

Former coach Judd Porter drifted down from defence close to three-quarer time to drill another long goal that gave the visitors a 13-point break.

The result was put beyond doubt when Wangaratta booted the first four goals of the last term to open an untouchable 37-point break.

Kelly added another in the last term onslaught, but full-forward Joel Harris was the team’s most productive forward with five goals.

Harris repeated his four-goal opening effort from round one before, but the Saints reacted quickly to his dominance and replaced Hamish Leahy with Matt Dussin.

The Magpies pulled another masterstroke in the second half when they shifted Xavier Norden on to the Saints’ co-coach Brad Murray.

Murray had been a constant threat in the first two quarters.

Magpies coach Mark Knobel gave the credit for the move to a former coach, Jon Henry, who was acting as the team’s runner.

The Magpies had plenty of other contributors, including Daine and Judd Porter, Jamie Allan (40 possessions) and Matt Grossman who provided constant rebound from half-back after starting the game up forward.

Former Essendon star Scott Lucas had a greater impact than his three-possession debut against Lavington.

He finished with five goals yesterday and, along with former Wangaratta premiership player, Jarrod Hayse, he gave the Saints two viable options up forward.

Riley O’Shea spent time at both ends of the ground and was among the Saints best players, along with co-coaches Murray and Leigh Corcoran and Kristen Height.

The Magpies face winless Wodonga next round and could have their season back on track at 2-2.

The Saints confront a far bigger challenge in the reigning premier Yarrawonga.