KDL | Gallery | Swans hold off gallant Lancaster to remain unbeaten

Wrapped up: Lancaster’s Jack Elliott tries to fend off Avenel’s Max Lawrence. Photo by Aydin Payne

Avenel has kept its dream start to the Kyabram District League season alive following a spirited nine-point win over a hungry Lancaster on Saturday.

The Swans did it the hard way and held off the gallant visitors 9.12 (66) to 8.9 (57) to chalk up their sixth win of the campaign.

Played under blue skies at Avenel Recreation Reserve, the Swans were made to dig deep multiple times throughout the contest.

The first test came when Lancaster was able to get the early jump on the host in the opening term.

Ruck duel: Avenel’s Paul Arandt and Lancaster’s Coby O’Neill battle it out. Photo by Aydin Payne

Avenel responded with the next three majors to hold a slim four-point buffer.

Lancaster onballers Brad Orr and Jake Mills (two goals) were influential and helped the Wombats mount a charge in the second term.

Quick hands: Lancaster’s Brad Orr was one of his side’s best on Saturday. Photo by Aydin Payne

Down by four points at the main break, everyone looked for Avenel’s players to stand up to the challenge.

And it was the Swans’ engine room which stood up to the task.

Captain Kyle Maynard, onballers Jack Myers and Mitch Tobin and speedster Braydon Avola stood tall as Avenel fired home four goals to one in the third term.

“I’m proud of the entire group in a way because Lancaster tried to make that a real contest,” Avenel playing coach Kasey Duncan said.

“They tried to make it hard for us to score and they rebounded out of defence well.

“I’m just really proud of the effort and the fight that we were able to show because we haven’t really had that yet apart from round one.

“To be sitting six-and-zip is nice ... we have Shepp East in a few weeks and they’ve been the benchmark and that’s where we want to be.”

Duncan was full of praise for his side’s backline, which was led expertly by Daniel Clarke, Max Lawrence and Chayse Thomson.

The playing coach is also spoilt for choice with onballers.

Dishing it off: Tim Karolidis gets a handball away. Photo by Aydin Payne

The Swans have formed a formidable midfield brigade with the likes of Maynard, Tobin, Myers, Avola and Tim Karolidis.

“It’s such a good mix. It still is a new group and they are still learning how to play with each other and they’re all very different (players),” Duncan said.

“Millsy was giving them a lot of drive out of the middle and Tom (Davies) as well off half-back and my message (at half-time) was let’s just go back to our game plan.

“Get the pressure on the ball, make sure that we hit those hit-up kicks and not giving them that run and overlap out of defence. So just pressing up and not giving them that option to run and carry running the ball.

“I thought the boys responded to that really well and our third quarter was unbelievable.”

There were no serious injuries for the Swans, however talented all-rounder Karolidis left the field with the blood rule before half-time but returned to finish out the game.

Ouch: Avenel’s Tim Karolidis heads off with the blood rule. Photo by Aydin Payne

Around the grounds, Damian Wust enjoyed his first taste of success at the helm of Rushworth on Saturday.

The Tigers ran out to a comfortable 64-point victory over an inaccurate Longwood outfit.

Wust, in his first-year as Rushworth coach, led from the front and was one of the best performers for the Tigers.

Crunch: Avenel’s Mitch Tobin bumps Lancaster’s Luke Davies. Photo by Aydin Payne

Key forward Pat Rattray had a day out with nine goals, while Tom Birch and Kieran Malone rounded out the better players for Rushworth in the 18.7 (115) to 6.15 (51) win.

Longwood’s Matthew Ranger and Josh Cumberland battled hard all day in the loss.

Air time: Lancaster’s Tim Strapp has a kick on goal. Photo by Aydin Payne

Lastly, Merrigum staved off a last-quarter push from Girgarre to post a 22-point triumph.

The Bulldogs, who led by six goals at the last break, almost stumbled at the final hurdle, but a huge effort from Jack Sinclair (six majors) willed his side over the line.

Girgarre got within 11 points of the home side but Smith’s two goals in the last quarter saw the Bulldogs clinch a 17.10 (112) to 14.6 (90) win.

Marshall the troops: Lancaster coach Tom Davies talks to the playing group at quarter-time. Photo by Aydin Payne