Bright breaks down as Panthers surge
Bright has squandered an opportunity to remain in the top four hunt, with a third quarter lapse costing them victory over league leaders Benalla.
The Mountain Men let a 19-point halftime lead slip against the All Blacks, who for the second time in three weeks came from behind to record victory.
Benalla maintained top spot after surviving the scare while a second straight loss and fourth defeat of the year sees Bright drop to seventh ahead of a clash with sixth placed Greta (4-4) after the bye.
Despite Saturday’s 10.8 (68) to 12.9 (81) result, it was a much-improved performance for the home side after they were belted by 148 points by Milawa the previous week.
Bright’s attack on the football, and the opposition, in the first half was the best it’s been all season, while changes to their defensive structure and Brody Ricardi’s move to halfback paid dividends.
Bright kicked the first two goals of the game and four in the opening quarter but led by just three points at the first change after Benalla added two late scores.
The visitors went up early in the second term before Bright hit back with five of the next six majors.
Jarrod Hayse kicked four of his five goals in the second quarter while the efforts of Dylan Bursill, Jai Dykstra, Nick Lebish and Sam Dal- bosco were influential Bright being ahead.
However, the Mountain Men’s run disappeared in the third term and they struggled to get anything going offensively as the All Blacks turned the tables on the first half.
Benalla’s better players also lifted but it was the decision to move star onballer Al Jacka forward that was the difference maker.
Jacka booted four of Benalla’s six, third quarter goals, to turn the deficit into a 19-point in advantage for the visitors.
Chad Martin’s long bomb midway through the final quarter reduced the margin to 12 points but Joel Eastwood sealed the game for the All Blacks not long after.
Coach Paul Dalbosco was pleased with his side’s performance but knows it was a missed opportunity.
“After the Milawa loss I just wanted more out of the players and I’m extremely proud of the tackling pressure we brought for most of the day,” he said.
“We just lost a little bit of intensity for one quarter and our disposal and overuse of the ball in that third quarter really killed us.
“Our fitness has probably played a role in two pretty poor second halves in row too so that’s something we’ve got to address.”
“They’re (Benalla) sitting on top of the ladder and we were coming from a fairly long way back, but I saw signs of what we’re capable of and hopefully it’s something we can build upon.”