It was a tough task but the Deni Rams managed to prevail in the difficult trip to The Road in round two of the Murray Football League on Saturday.
The Rams recovered from a slow start to earn a hard-fought 10 point win against Congupna, in what was their first victory at Memorial Park, Congupna, since round six in the 2014 MFL season.
The Road jumped out to a 14 point quarter time lead thanks to a dribble kick rolling through for a goal on the siren, before Deni fought their way back into the contest to trail by one behind at the main break.
A consistent performance in the second half saw the visitors pinch the lead, having a two-goal advantage heading in the final stanza, before holding on desperately for the win.
In what was a low-scoring slog, it was defence that won the day for the visitors with Rams skipper John Anstee a clear-cut best on ground for the victors down back.
Young John Bowie also was strong in defence, while ruckman Chris O’Connor and onballers Ricky Gittens, Nick Howe and winger Ryan MacDonald all made strong contributions for the Rams.
BJ Squire was declared Congupna’s best player with Joe Dwyer and Curt Allen also standing tall.
Final score, Deni Rams 9.8 (62) to Congupna 7.10 (52).
It was a feeling of rejoice for the Rams, who last year managed just two wins for the season.
Deni co-coach Sam Hall said the feeling in the rooms after the game was one of pure joy.
‘‘The boys were pretty happy and sang the song fairly loudly, and the room was full of supporters which was great to see and they were all pretty happy too,’’ he said.
‘‘It took us a little while to settle (in the game), we just had to get our match-ups and structure right.
‘‘It was tough but I’m really happy with how we ground it out.
‘‘Our defence was enormous with John Anstee, Bully (Anthony Bull) and Brayden Hall all outstanding.
‘‘It was particularly pleasing to see Hally finding his feet a bit after missing 18 months of footy.’’
The game was played in between the attacking 50s for most of the clash, with both sides opting to play a loose man in defence throughout.
While the game was a bit of a slog due to this, Hall said it came with plenty of highlights.
‘‘Nick Howe went head to head with BJ Squire and we felt he did an outstanding job, applying pressure and forcing him to kick out wide,’’ he said.
‘‘Ryan MacDonald took an absolute screamer on the wing in the third quarter and kicked a pretty classy goal and Ash Morris was also good with two majors.
‘‘We also had three players pull out in between Thursday and Saturday and we still had both seniors and the reserves score a win.
‘‘We won in all grades of footy and netball. I couldn’t tell you the last time that has happened but it’s certainly been a long time.’’
The Rams overcame some late changes to the side in the reserves to record a thrilling nine point win over The Road.
Trailing by just one point at half time, the Rams managed to work their way in front in the third, holding onto their slender advantage when the final siren sounded.
Final score, Deni Rams 9.5 (59) to Congupna 7.8 (50).
The Rams were best served by Logan Ives, John Allitt, Scott Atley (one goal) and Mark Panton, with Rob Barnes (three) and Andrew Hogan (two) starring up forward for the visitors.
Deni will now look towards a mouth-watering Good Friday clash against arch rivals Finley later this week.
The two sides will meet in the annual Leo Barry-Tom Hawkins Cup clash at Hardinge St Oval at 2pm.