A DISAPPOINTING first quarter left the Murray Bushrangers with too much of a mountain to climb in their loss to the Oakleigh Chargers on Saturday.
Despite missing a number of key figures, the loss will nonetheless sting for the Bushies, who dominated the second and third quarters but were unable to translate that in to scoreboard pressure.
The Chargers, also missing some key personnel due to the first round of the AFL Under-18 Championships, nonetheless welcomed back talent from various Melbourne private schools and dashed to a five goal lead at the first break.
Though interim coach Mark Brown was pleased with the second and third quarter effort, the Chargers ultimately travelled back down the Hume Highway with a 16.10.106 to 7.10.56 victory in hand.
“That was really the story of the game, they jumped us in the first quarter and well and truly held the ascendancy,” he said.
“We fought back really well through the second and third quarters, controlled the bulk of play, but we just couldn’t hit the scoreboard.
“At three-quarter time we were still four goals back – we would have like to have continued to gut it out, but it’s tough.”
Despite the heavy loss, there were some positive signs for the Bushies as the competition for the top four heats up.
Mathew Walker had one of his better games for the season after struggling with injury early on, booting two goals in an influential display across half-forward.
Jordon Butts and Mark Marriot impressed again, while Robert Paradzayi featured in the best on debut as well.
Brown said he believed the Bushies had their share of winners on the day, but was left to rue their lack of scoring.
“It just never felt like we gained any ground – it felt like we were playing well, but they get a couple of easy goals and all of a sudden they have all the momentum,” he said.
“The half dozen in the best were very good, I thought we had a number of clear winners.
“Butts was very good across half-forward, was clean below the knees.
“Rob Paradzayi was also very good in his first game, particularly as a top-ager.
“Unfortunately, we just didn’t have enough.”
The Bushies will travel to face the Bendigo Pioneers next Sunday.