Kyabram Free Press
Tongala is victorious in battle of the unbeatens
Tongala has handed Moama its first loss of the season in a clash between two of the Murray League’s unbeaten teams, topping the Magpies by 43 points on Saturday.
The Blues overcame a sluggish start to eventually get the better of the Magpies at Moama Recreation Reserve, kicking away late to win 13.12 (90) to 7.5 (47) in a see-sawing encounter.
Blues coach Jordan Souter said the win was a massive result for his side.
“It wasn’t quite a perfect game, but there was a hell of a lot of improvement from the sort of results we have been putting out,” Souter said.
“We have been winning, but we haven’t been winning the way we want to be and I think yesterday hopefully is a turning point in the season to really kick on with a bit of belief and excitement.”
Momentum ebbed and flowed throughout the heavyweight clash, with Moama starting off the better of the two sides.
The Pies held Tongala to just one point in the opening quarter, with the Blues on the back foot after suffering three serious injuries in the opening quarter.
Despite the injuries, Tongala responded with six goals to Moama’s two over the next two quarters to hold a 20-point lead at three-quarter time.
Momentum swung back Moama’s way once again early in the fourth term with the Magpies reducing the margin to less than a goal, but Tongala wrestled control back and kicked away to run out seven-goal winners.
Souter was full of praise for his side after the win, saying it was the club’s best result of the year “by a long way”.
“It was a really good performance from our group, it was fantastic,” he said.
“It was a good day out for our footy club, we’ve been waiting all year to play some of our better footy and I think Saturday was definitely our best result, it was excellent to watch.
“We lost three blokes to serious injury in the first 20 minutes so we didn’t make a rotation from the 20-minute mark of the first quarter so it was a good effort by everyone.”
After the Pies came within a goal in the fourth quarter, Souter praised his side for staying cool under pressure.
“We didn’t stress, we stuck to what we know works for us,” he said.
“We didn’t panic, we had some really good, experienced players out there and I think they shone through in the last quarter.
“It was a will to win, the boys were really keen to win that game and they did a good job.”
On the flip side, Moama coach Sam Sheldon said his side just couldn’t quite match the Blues on the day
“I thought we had a good hitout. We were on early, but we just let ourselves down with a few skill errors and they are obviously a good side and capitalised on it,” Sheldon said.
“Our pressure and our intent around the ball was really good in the first half, and we dropped away from that in the second half.
“We lost a bit of the footy and we got out-marked a few times, we fell down at centre-half forward a little bit.
“They took their opportunities and we didn’t, and that is why they beat us. We didn’t use the ball well enough and paid the price for it in
the end. We just couldn’t quite string it together when we needed to in crucial times of the game
It was Moama’s first loss of the season, and Sheldon said there were some key lessons for his side to take away from the game.
“Just to hang in the fight for that little bit longer and take those opportunities when they are there,” he said.
“Against lesser sides if you miss a couple of goals early it doesn’t really hurt you, but against a good side like Tonny if you miss a couple of goals it just puts the pressure on even more.
“Yesterday we weren’t quite there but we weren’t far off and that’s just how slight the difference is between being a good side and an average side.
“It is something we can definitely rectify and we look forward to having another crack at them in round 15.”
For Tongala, Coby Mccarthy was the Blues’ leading goalkicker
on the day with three, with Harley Reid, Jack Hammond and Cameron Ilett each kicking two.
Souter said Mccarthy, Hammond, Ilett and Adam Lovison were some of the best for his side.
“Jack Hammond was really good on the wing, it was definitely his best game of the season.
“Lovo our captain was excellent, Coby and Cameron just to name a few, I really could name everyone in our side, they all did a really good job.
Souter said Reid was fantastic for the Blues, with the Bendigo Pioneer playing his first game of the season for Tonny.
“He was excellent,” Sheldon said. “Especially in that last quarter when they kicked a couple of goals in a row, he stood up, took a really big pack mark and went back and kicked the goal. He’s a star.”
Sheldon said Nicholas Pavlou, Ned Osborne, Jye Smith and skipper Jack Russell were among the best for Moama.