The Murray Bushrangers will be desperate to put last weekend’s second-half disaster behind them with a solid four-quarter display against the Bendigo Pioneers at Shepparton on Good Friday.
Gippsland Power piled on seven goals to the Bushrangers’ three after half-time to run out 44-point victors in round one.
Bushrangers’ coach Leon Higgins backs the talents on his list, but admits they must bring more enthusiasm and energy against Bendigo.
“We got outworked by our opposition, so that was a very big concern for us,” Higgins said.
“We were in the game for the most part, but I think a lack of work rate told on us and a lack of rotations at the end of the game hurt us as well.”
Zane Barzen (ankle) and Charlie Hill (hip) have been ruled out with injury, opening the door for Wodonga Raiders’ Nick Murray to slot into the backline.
Yarrawonga’s Finn O’Dwyer will make his debut and has been named on the half-forward flank.
Jacob Koschitzke will remain on limited game time as he continues to recover from a foot problem.
The Bushrangers met the Pioneers in a pre-season trial and Higgins has an idea of what to expect.
“We have a height advantage over them, but they run and carry the ball really well,” he said.
“Will Holt kicked five goals which was nearly half their score, so we’ll have to keep an eye on him.
“Given it’s a region, they’re not all full home games, but it’s a lot less travel for us than having to go to Melbourne and the boys prefer that.
“It’s a short break because we played Sunday and are backing up Friday, so it’s been a pretty quiet week.”
Friday’s match starts at 11.30am at Deakin Reserve.
The team is:
B, A Dang, N Murray, R Quinn; hb, L Ash, T Boyd, K Clarke; c, B Frauenfelder, N Amery, R Bice; hf, F O’Dwyer, H Garoni, W Chandler; f, P Warner, J Koschitzke, M Walker; foll, M Marriott, E Smith, L Vandermeer; inter, B St John, J Chalcraft, J Bradshaw, D Clarke, B Kelly, F Ellis; emg, J Boyer, E Dayman, M Oates.
Elsewhere, Calder Cannons take on Eastern Ranges, Gippsland Power faces Dandenong Stringrays, Sandringham Dragons clash with Oakleigh Chargers, Northern Knights host Western Jets, while Geelong Falcons square off with Greater Western Victoria Rebels.
Meanwhile, the Bushrangers’ TAC Cup girls side takes on the Western Jets next Tuesday at Euroa in round four of the competition.
The Bushrangers had big wins against the Calder Cannons and Bendigo Pioneers in the opening rounds, before a draw against Gippsland Power last weekend.
Northern Knights, Eastern Ranges and Geelong Falcons have started with three wins.