In a tight enthralling contest, the Murray Bushrangers have defeated the Geelong Falcons by 9 points at RAMS Arena Highgate Recreation Reserve in Craigieburn. With the Bushrangers missing 11 players due to Representative duties; the Bushrangers introduced four debutants to TAC Cup football while nine had played less than three games. The debutants were Cobram’s Esava Ratugolea, Shepparton East’s Billy Cooper, Wodonga Raider’s Ethan Boxall and Seymour’s Lachlan Waite.

After the toss, the Bushrangers kicked against the breeze to open the game. But it was the Geelong team on the board first with a goal. However the Bushrangers were working hard to gel as a unit. Ryan Garthwaite in defence was a rock and continually punched from behind to enable the defenders to clear; while Clayton Oliver was in and under the packs creating clearances. The Murray team worked the ball forward from Mitch King in the ruck and found Billy Cooper who marked strongly. With his first kick in TAC Cup football, he calmly slotted the goal working it back on the breeze. The tense struggle for possession continued and as the siren sounded for quarter time the Falcons maintained a four point lead.

The second term with the breeze started in great fashion for the Bushrangers when Ryley Sharp kicked a great goal under pressure to give overtake the Falcons on the scoreboard, but the Geelong outfit hit back to again take the lead in a titanic struggle.

The Bushrangers were winning the clearances and with a forward foray Shaun Mannagh marked on the boundary and casually played on to snap his first goal. And moments later when Ratugolea marked and goaled the Bushrangers led by 2 points after 12 minutes of the second term. But as was the momentum swings, Geelong goaled in the 20th minutes to again take the lead despite the efforts of Garthwaite, King and Isaac Wallace in defence.

In the shadow of half time Luke Smith bobbed up to kicked the Bushrangers back to the lead after a terrific snap in heavy traffic close to goal. And at half time the Bushrangers lead by a solitary point in a great contest of hard uncompromising football.

After receiving feedback from Coach Darren Ogier and the coaching staff, the Bushrangers began the third quarter with a bang. Debutant Ethan Boxall took a high flying mark and slotted his first goal of TAC Cup football to extend the Bushrangers lead to 7 points inside the first minute. The Bushrangers continued to play attacking football off the ruck work of Mitch King and the centre clearance work of Clayton Oliver, Harry Tanner, Fletcher Carroll and Murray Waite; however after twelve minutes of the third quarter the lead was extended to 9 points.

Geelong continued to run hard and wide and kicked two goals to again take the lead and with a solid breeze led by 2 points at three quarter time. And with the previous game fresh in their minds, Coach Darren Ogier implored his players to remember the process and stick to the game plan and this game would be won.

The third term opened with Geelong scoring a behind, despite the Bushrangers going forward on multiple occasions, and at the 10 minute mark the Bushrangers kicked the goal to put them back in the lead. Shaun Mannagh who was winning quality possessions kicked his second goal to extend the lead to 7 points. Not to be outdone the Falcons continued to answer the challenges and at the 16 minute mark, it was the Bushrangers who maintained a 1 point lead.

Ethan Boxall continued a solid debut game and kicked his second goal after multiple efforts to maintain control of play to extend the Murray boys lead. At the twenty minute mark of the final term, the Bushrangers led by 8 points, but had two players off the field with injuries and another couple suffering ill health. It was going to take mental and physical strength to combat the Falcons and with everyone contributing; Luke Smith kicked the sealer for the Bushrangers to win by 9 points in a fantastic display of TAC Cup football.

With a week off for Community Development Weekend this coming week, it sees the Murray Bushrangers sitting in third position on the ladder.



Final scores –

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 11 – 11 = 77 to Geelong Falcons 10 – 8 = 68

Goal Kickers      Luke Smith (CONGUPNA) 2, Shaun Mannagh (NORTH ALBURY) 2, Ethan Boxall (WODONGA RAIDERS) 2, Isaac Wallace (Wodonga) 1, Esava Ratugolea (Cobram) 1, Billy Cooper (SHEPPARTON EAST) 1, Fletcher Carroll (Albury) 1, Ryley Sharp (Myrtleford) 1

Best Players –

Ryan Garthwaite (Corowa Rutherglen), Clayton Oliver (Mooroopna), Mitch King (Wodonga), Shaun Mannagh (North Albury), Harry Tanner (Albury), Ethan Boxall (Wodonga Raiders)


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