THE Murray Bushrangers put a string of poor starts behind them to defeat Northern Knights by 35 points at Preston City Oval on Saturday.
Kicking against a stiff breeze, the Bushrangers held their own in the first quarter before breaking the match open in the second term.
“There was probably a four-goal breeze and I thought we did really well to come in at quarter-time level,” coach Leon Higgins said.
“Hopefully that’s the end of our slow starts.
“We were first to score and it was really important we started well playing away from home.”
It was the Bushrangers’ fifth successive victory and sets them up for a huge clash with ladder leader Dandenong this weekend.
Small defender James Boyer led the way.
The Congupna player was in everything with support coming from midfielders Ely Smith, Jye Chalcraft and Riley Bice.
“James was really clean with his hands and made great decisions,” Higgins said.
“He kicked three or four goals in a quarter for Congupna to help them to a win last weekend and is in really good form at the moment.”
Bice also drifted forward to kick three goals with his trademark zip catching the Northern Knights’ defence off guard.
Bailey Frauenfelder bobbed up with two goals and could easily have kicked four.
Kyle Clarke was effective and first-gamer Kai Davies chipped in with a goal on debut.
“I thought we controlled play fairly well,” Higgins said.
“The first quarter was tight but we managed to get on top after that to break the game open.”
Wodonga’s Hudson Garoni leads the TAC Cup goalkicking with 16, followed by Frauenfelder on 15.
Ryan Bowkett was a strong performer for the Knights with Sunny Brazier and Ryan Gardner providing good support.
The Bushrangers came through the clash without any injuries and should be close to full strength for their clash with the Stingrays in Melbourne on Saturday.
“Dandenong is a really strong side,” Higgins said.
“They are 5-1 and playing good, consistent footy.
“They have some highly regarded players so it’s a good test for us.”
The Bushrangers only loss this season was against Gippsland Power in round one when they went down by 44 points.