Facing last year’s Kyabram District League premiers and grand finalists Tallygaroopna and Nagambie in back-to-back matches was always going to be a tough task.
But it was a challenge that Avenel playing coach Kasey Duncan was open to.
Ultimately, the Swans were up slightly off the mark, losing to both clubs by 42 and 33 points respectively, but it was 15 minutes of ‘‘champagne footy’’ in each of the match’s third terms that showed Duncan that his side could match it with the league’s top teams.
‘‘We’ve show it in patches. There were 15 minutes of play where we went from 30 points down to three,’’ Duncan said of Saturday’s round five loss to Tallygaroopna.
‘‘We had the footy and they couldn’t touch us.’’
In a similar turn of events, Avenel worked a half-time margin of 28 points back down to six at three-quarter-time against Nagambie in round three, before it ballooned back out to 33 points by the final siren.
Despite a lack of cohesion forward, Duncan applauded the efforts of his midfield group against Tallygaroopna on the weekend, labelling the group as ‘‘arguably one of the league’s best’’.
‘‘We had 20-plus clearances, we led inside 50s and the tackle count,’’ Duncan said.
‘‘But going forward we’re not as smart. Tally set up really well behind play.
‘‘I informed the troops to lower their eyes and be patience. But we bombed long and it played into Tally’s hands. We’ve got to move it forward better.’’
It was Tallygaroopna’s class that won out in the end, but not doing Avenel any favours was the fact the Swans were down a bench by the final quarter.
An issue that saw Avenel’s Chris Burton walk off the ground mid-match will be addressed by the playing group this week, while injuries to captain Michael Morgan (ribs) and Mark Blackman (ankle) meant the team failed to run out the match full strength.
Avenel will now join the rest of the league with a week off for Interleague, before facing bottom of the ladder Ardmona in two weeks time.
Duncan said his team, which has up to 12 new players this season, had plenty of work to do in the coming weeks to implement and action a game plan that would better prepare it to face the league’s strongest teams.
‘‘We need to gel a bit more and find a way to click in the forward line,’’ he said.
‘‘And we’ve still got Andrew Green, Nick Goodwin and Cael Mccarthy to come back in. There are holes to be filled, and we have that depth with our reserves 4-0 which we’re really proud of.’’
Seniors score: Avenel 9.6 (60) def by Tallygaroopna 15.12 (102)
Goalkickers: A. Durnan 2, B. Avola, J. Smith-Williams, P. Arandt, J. McDonald, M. Morgan, K. Duncan, H. McLean
Best players: J. McDonald, K. Maynard, P. Arandt, H. McLean, D. Giles, M. McKenzie
Reserves score: Avenel 7.10 (52) def Tallygaroopna 4.6 (30)
Goalkickers: J. Sutherland 2, C. Hogan 2, B. Hughes, C. Berry, C. Donohue
Best players: C. Hogan, T. Heaysman, J. Myers, J. Sutherland, C. Berry