Yarrawonga’s look to the future has paid immediate dividends with a five-star showing.
The Pigeons pounded a lacklustre Lavington 16.15 (111) to 7.11 (53).
Yarrawonga was missing a host of players and added some youth in debutant Ely Smith and Bailey Frauenfelder.
“It’s our best performance of the year,” Pigeons’ co-coach Chris Kennedy said.
“Logan Morey, Tim Cooper, Beau Seymour and Lach Howe were out, so that’s going to give us a lot of selection headaches because the kids that came in were really strong.”
“I think we were forced to do it (introduce more pace).
“It’s pace and fitness and run, obviously (Wodonga) Raiders did hurt us a bit for pace.”
However, Kennedy stopped short of declaring selectors will automatically stick with the pace policy.
“We’ll pick a side that we think can win each game,” he said.
“When you’re playing Albury and Wodonga Raiders, they’re two totally different sides.”
Albury is the league’s most physical and skilful outfit, while Raiders are the league’s quickest.
Sixteen-year-old Smith, the grandson of league Hall of Famer John and nephew of former AFL star Joel, played like a veteran.
“He’s had 24 possessions and it was just workrate,” Kennedy said.
Smith is 187 centimetres, but he’s also a powerful schoolboy at 85 kilograms.
“It’s a lot more physical and the ball’s a little bit quicker in transition,” he said.
Nick Lawless was sensational with five goals, Brad O’Connor also snared five, Marcus Hargreaves had one of his best games, while Tyler Bonat was superb.
“A captain’s game,” Kennedy said.
“He made a couple of mistakes, but when you get it 38 times, you are going to make a couple, his effort was huge.”
The one negative was a corked calf to star on-baller Mark Whiley.
The Pigeons will face a test of their ‘horses for courses’ policy when they host the physical Wodonga.
Wodonga is still alive, partly due to Lavington’s disastrous display.
The home side wasn’t helped when gun utility Brant Dickson missed the game with a hamstring problem.
Coach James Saker was quizzed if there was a lack of effort.
“There seemed to be or just not working as smart together as we needed to,” he said.
“Their hardness at the ball was superior to us, so they won it inside and then they worked better together outside.”
Marty Brennan was Lavington’s star with five majors.