Tatura opened its home season against Shepparton United on Saturday with both vying for the Care Cup and Care Shield in football and netball.
Tatura’s first home game of the year yielded a win over an enthusiastic and much improved Shepparton United outfit on Saturday.
With a few strategic changes to the line-up — including resting some soldiers and the big out of ‘‘Shoulders’’ Elliott — United would have fancied its chances against a Bulldogs team looking to open its 2019 account.
From the outset it was clear the match-up was going to be a dour affair with United and its bevy of young players looking to play the game on its terms and prevent a free flowing contest of any sorts. The Demons deployed a number of hard tags, particularly targeting midfield recruit Nick Fothergill. For Tatura, Sean Martin had the job on United talisman Tim Looby.
The first stanza reached no great heights and although Tatura kicked the first two goals, United were able to claw their way back to a two-point quarter time lead, through tough grunt work.
The second quarter was critical for Tatura and saw a more free flowing affair develop. The Bulldogs were able to break the shackles and apply some scoreboard pressure, outscoring United four goals to one, which, in a low scoring affair, ultimately proved the difference. The midfield got on top, and through Fothergill, the elusive Billy Cooper and coach Jamason Daniels, were able to provide well-structured forward drive; the main beneficiaries being GVL interleague forwards Brayden Grenfell and Matt Ryan.
The Doggies again outscored their opposition in the third and pushed the lead out to a game high 23 points, although by no means a match winning lead. Pleasingly, the backline stewardship of Brad Ryan and Brayden Sutton allowed ample opportunity for rebound footy. Their cool heads will prove valuable as the season wears on.
The third quarter also saw Grenfell reported and sent from the ground for an altercation with Looby. No doubt the video review will be pored over, but there appeared to be little in it.
The last quarter was undoubtedly a grind, but included a classy goal by Fothergill who, despite some nagging attention all day was able to seal the deal, and certainly made a point of thanking his United opponent for his contribution.
In the limited opportunities that came its way there was little doubt the running game and midfield depth of Tatura worried United. The Bulldogs line-to-line transition, particularly when given time and space to execute, will give many teams sleepless nights in 2019.
At the final siren the Doggies had stretched the final margin out to 33 points. At the end of the day, Tatura’s midfield class told the story with Fothergill, Cooper, Daniels, Jason Tutt and the returning Jimmy Fraser (who owes ‘‘Shoulder’’ a drink for his inclusion) proving the difference.
The brains trust at the Kennel would be pleased the win was secured despite no real flashes of brilliance in a workmanlike fashion. Winning ugly is a habit good teams develop.
Tatura once again retained the Care Cup with its victory. Sponsored by Family Care, the Cup is awarded to raise awareness of family violence and to provide the impetus to have a conversation about addressing the issues of violence against women and children.
Goal Kickers: Fothergill 2, C. Ryan 2, M. Ryan 2, Civarella, Cooper, Daniels, Armstrong and Grenfell.
Best Players: Fothergill, Daniels, B. Ryan, Cooper, Fraser and Tutt.