THE Murray Bushrangers still need to find some consistency, but coach Leon Higgins is happy with the way his side has adjusted to the TAC Cup over the first three rounds.
A bye last weekend provided ample time to reflect on the strides the team had made in the early part of the season, responding to a round one drubbing by reeling off two straight wins.
Higgins said the players were figuring out the workrate required to be competitive at TAC Cup level, progress indicated by an uptick in their GPS data.
“We’ve been able to slowly make adjustments, the workrate and GPS numbers have increased,” he said.
“They’re getting a good understanding of what hard work means at TAC Cup level.
“Learning how to deal with long trips to games and the build up each week, they’re getting a handle on that.”
We're a blue collar team, we know we have to work really hard in the contest and make other teams defend.Leon Higgins
The Bushrangers will return to Wangaratta this weekend to take on Sandringham, who Higgins believes will be a top four team in 2018.
The Dragons are yet to be defeated this season, and despite them losing a few players to the beginning of the school football season in Melbourne, Higgins believes they’ll still be a top team.
“They’ll have quite a few changes, so we’re not sure exactly what to expect from them, but they’re a very good team,” Higgins said.
“We’re a blue-collar team, we know we have to work really hard in the contest, we have to make other teams defend.
“Luckily, for a young team we’ve got a lot of players with experience in senior footy.
“That’s helped them with the physicality of the game, younger players aren’t always ready for that.”
The backline and midfield has led the way as the Bushrangers have settled into the season, with the likes of Lachie Ash, Laitham Vandermeer, Mark Marriott and Noah Amery.
Higgins said the likes of Wodonga Raiders young gun Dylan Clarke epitomised the kind of hard working play he wanted this team to be known for.
“We ask these guys, and especially our bottom age players, to get the basics right and back their own game,” he said.
“Dylan is an excellent example of that, he’s built a solid platform for himself, he tackles and pressures really well.
“Overall we’re close to where we hoped we’d be.”
Saturday will also be a big day for the club as a whole, marking the first time the club’s three teams will play games at the same venue on the same day.
The under-18 boys kick off from 11:30, with the under 16 girls to follow at 2pm and the under 18 girls to cap the day’s proceedings from 3:30pm.