Avenel 8.10 (58) def by Merrigum 8.16 (64)
Avenel got off to a flying start at home against Merrigum before running out of gas and losing by a kick.
Merrigum had barely troubled the score-keeper with just three behinds by half-time and with a 33-point lead at the main break, the Swans looked to have complete control of the game.
But the second half was a new matter entirely, with Merrigum piling eight goals to rocket back into the contest.
The Swans were themselves held goal-less in the third-quarter and despite slotting three majors in the final term, they went on to lose by six points.
Avenel assistant coach Kasey Duncan — on the sidelines with a long-term injury — was in charge of the whiteboard on game day and said it was frustrating the Swans couldn’t ice the game during their period of dominance.
‘‘We controlled the footy and the play in the first half, leading the inside 50 count by about 15 but weren’t able to turn these into scoring opportunities,’’ he said.
‘‘Our zone and press led to constant inside 50s but we were wasteful in the way we entered the 50 — we realistically should have been 10 goals up at half-time.
‘‘Merrigum play a brand of footy where they push players back and try to go forward from there. The second half our running looked flat, our pressure dropped off and Merrigum were able to get their hands on the footy out of the middle and go forward.
‘‘Despite Scott Tyers, Andrew Green and Matt Hurley’s best attempts down back they were able to get on the score board changing the momentum of the game. We will have a look at things and assess how we can put a hold on those lapses.’’
Duncan said Max Lawrence and former Avondale Heights player Garrett Davies shared the honours as best on ground for the Swans.
‘‘Maxy and Garrett were huge in our transitions from defence to forward, being the link up men with run and breaking the lines,’’ he said.
‘‘I’d say we will see plenty of this throughout the year — they have been a couple of shining lights through preseason.’’
But there were also great signs from some of Avenel’s other new players, with Shepparton Swans premiership player Michael Tinkler getting plenty of the ball and slotting a goal in the first quarter, and former Violet Town player Jake Sutherland a huge presence in the ruck.
While the Swans had eight goal-scorers, none of these were multiple scorers. But this was no cause for concern, according to Duncan.
‘‘This won’t be an issue but a positive for us and has been over the years in having multiple avenues to goal,’’ he said.
‘‘We just need to tune up the way we enter 50 and execute our skill better.’’
And despite the frustrating result, Duncan said he was feeling optimistic after the Swans showed plenty of promise in the first half — the highlight of which had to be Michael Morgan’s booming set shot goal from just outside the 50m line.
‘‘It was great to see Michael bang that goal as our newly appointed captain — there was a feel around we knew he would kick it, given he’s a highly skilled player,’’ Duncan said.
‘‘We had a perfect start, it was just a shame we weren’t able to keep our brand of the footy for the whole day. But we know if we can do that we will be big contenders this year with our full side on the park and fit.’’