A FIVE-star performance from young Corowa-Rutherglen forward Will Chandler was the highlight of a disappointing Murray Bushrangers performance against Calder Cannons at Albury Sportsground on Sunday.
The bottom-age player kicked four goals and gave away two others in the Bushrangers’ surprise 14.8 (92) to 10.12 (72) loss.
In further bad news for the finals-bound side, Shepparton United star Kyle Clarke is set to miss the rest of the season with a suspected ACL injury.
He was taken from the field by stretcher in the second term with coach Leon Higgins fearing the worst.
The Bushrangers led by three points at the final change but were outplayed at the stoppages in the last 25 minutes as the visitors banged on late goals with the aid of the breeze.
“It was a disappointing performance,” Higgins said.
“The opposition played really well and were efficient with the ball but we didn’t put enough defensive pressure on them at stoppages.
“Our defenders were under the pump with the easy, clean ball coming in.”
Chandler looked all class across half-forward with his reading of the play and penetrative left-foot continually catching out the Calder Cannons defence.
Ely Smith, Cam Wilson and Dylan Clarke were workmanlike while Kyle Chalcraft battled hard and Lachie Ash had his moments running out of defence.
Higgins said Chandler had shown positive signs in his first season in the TAC Cup.
“He was terrific,” he said.
“Will was really good last week as well.
“It was great to see him string together multiple games at this level.
“He’s really growing as a player.
“Last week he was terrific defensively as he tackled really well and applied a lot of pressure in our forward line and this week he hit the scoreboard.
“The challenge for him is to put both of those things together.”
The Bushrangers had a chance to break the game open early but could only kick 0.6 to 0.1 with the breeze in the first term.
They often bombed the ball long which resulted in easy clearances from the Cannons’ defence.
“Six points wasn’t a great return for the opening quarter,” he said.
“If it was 3.3 or 4.2 the game probably changes and it takes a bit of air out of them.
“We need to be better than that.”
A good crowd turned out for the match with former Collingwood and Richmond player Brian Taylor watching his son, Jesse, in action for the Cannons.
The Bushrangers have next weekend off for a development round before taking on Gippsland Power at Ballarat on August 18.