Mountain Men see off Bright All Blacks’ last salvo

IT may have been a scrappy game, but Bright was happy to leave Benalla with the win.

The All Blacks threw everything they had at the Mountain Men, but fell short by 38 points.

Bright co-coach Ben James was keen to take the positives.

“They definitely had nothing to lose and they came out to play,” he said.

“I walked past as they were coming out and they were determined to finish the year off strong and they played like that.

“It took us until probably the last quarter to shake the shackles — but it was a scrappy affair and that’s how it is sometimes played when you come up against the lower teams.

“It was disappointing we didn’t put the game on toast but at the same time it was a good opportunity for a challenge coming up to finals.”

With James out as well as Nathan Smith, Blaze Jordan and James Love, the Mountain Men’s resources were stretched.

“We have a young team and it was a good chance for them to show they could do it when the crunch came,” James said.

He said depth had been a problem this year.

“We rely heavily on our best 21 so injuries hurt us,” he said.

“But we have had enough guys willing to go in and have a dash and our best team is good enough to shake anyone.”

Leon Hughes was best on ground for Bright, while Tom McDonagh was a strong performer in the ruck.

Ben Bond and Brad Nightingale also featured, while Ricky Weimer bagged seven goals and Buckley six.

McDonagh rolled his ankle in the dying seconds and is an unlikely starter for the elimination final against Bonnie Doon this week.