Deniliquin Pastoral Times
A big crowd turned up to watch the rivalry between the Deniliquin Rovers and Mathoura Timbercutters unfold at Mathoura on Saturday.
A low-scoring first quarter saw the Rovers and Timbercutters sparring for a lead with a contested and physical back-and-forth consuming the play.
Mathoura missed a few goalscoring options through the first term thanks to dedication from Rovers back line, but held onto a slim eight point lead at the break.
Mathoura picked up the pace in the second stanza, adding six goals to their half time score while barring the Rovers from further opportunities.
‘‘They (Mathoura) controlled the tempo of the game in the second quarter and we struggled to bring back that momentum which put us back into a tough position,’’ Rovers coach Alex Hay said.
At half time, Mathoura had a commanding lead of 8.8 (56) to the Rovers 1.4 (10).
‘‘We were able to maintain some good possession through the middle of the ground, but missed some opportunities going forward,’’ Hay said, acknowledging his players ‘‘spent our tickets’’ by the second half, which allowed Mathoura’s tough defence to turn the ball over quickly.
Attempting to avoid another reactive game, the Rovers seized control through a few quality tussles and kicked another two majors by three quarter time.
But it was the Timbercutters’ spirit which Hay said made the difference, with ‘‘a bit of feeling’’ surrounding the home team’s Indigenous Round and their bid for finals.
‘‘Mathoura did well to push back hard in defence and get some good rebound from there,’’ Hay said.
Final score: Mathoura 18.19 (127) to Deniliquin Rovers 4.5 (29).
Hay said ‘‘finishing quarters and sustaining the intensity without some of our senior players has been challenging’’, but applauded younger players for stepping up across the season.
The ‘‘usual’’ Rovers stars stood tall, as well as some less familiar heroes — Dylan Mills was ‘‘excellent’’ on the back line, according to Hay.
‘‘His closing speed in the contest was really good and he used the ball well coming out of defence.’’
And Tom Chandler again ‘‘set the standard with his endeavour around the ball’’ as a result of tireless work at training.
Jai Ezard joined as a substitute and was clever with the ball.
Rovers’ best players: James Gilligan, Andy May, Tom Chandler, Adam Bodey, Caleb Weir, Alex Rourke.
Mathoura’s best players: Jake Ellery, Joshua Flight, Matt Sparey, Earl Handy, Jacob Keenan, Darcy Robinson.