AN undermanned Murray Bushrangers put up a brave performance before going down to Greater Western Sydney Academy by 12 points at Albury Sportsground on Saturday.
Despite missing several big name players due to the Young Guns match, Mark Brown's charges battled bravely with Dylan Clarke, Lachie Ash and James Boyer leading the way.
Clarke worked tirelessly for his possessions, Ash looked right at home on a wing and James Boyer capped off a strong game with three majors.
"In the end the scoreboard probably flattered us a little bit," Brown said.
"It was 12 points, but I thought we were never really in control of the game.
"We had some good snippets but generally they controlled the contest.
"I was really pleased with our effort though.
"We always knew it was going to be a tough ask with so many changes with the Young Guns game and our 19-year-olds out but the genuine effort was there which was pleasing."
Despite giving away plenty of height and strength, the Bushrangers stayed within reach of their opponents with Clarke and Ash getting through plenty of work.
"Dylan started the season a little bit slower carrying an ankle injury but he seems over that now and is playing some good football," he said.
"He's back to last year's form.
"His last three weeks have been really good."
Another plus for the Bushrangers was the form of first-gamer Will Bowden.
With regular big-man Ben Kelly playing elsewhere, Bowden came into the side as the 23rd man and grabbed his chance.
"Without our 19-year-olds, Will got his opportunity and was really competitive which isn't always easy in your first game," he said.
"He competed strongly and got around the ground well."
Collingullie's Ed Perryman impressed for GWS.
The Bushrangers came through the clash without any major injuries and take on Geelong Falcons on Saturday.