The North Ballarat Rebels have claimed their first win of the season, defeating the Bendigo Pioneers by a whopping 80 points earlier today at Epson Huntly Reserve.
Coming into the game with a five-day break and missing a host of key personnel, the Rebels underlined their depth with an impressive four-quarter performance.
The Rebels’ ability to catapult forward thrusts from defence was a highlight of the win, as was their manic pressure across all parts of the ground.
Utility Matthew Johnston was the major beneficiary, kicking six goals, while Josh Webster continued his excellent start to the year with another polished display down back.
Despite the final score-line, it wasn’t a one-sided contest early on.
The Pioneers hit the ground running in the opening term and were able to put the Rebels on the back foot. Given they were also up against a strong wind, the Rebels did well to trail by just one point at the first break.
However, the Rebels were quick to assert themselves on the contest, scoring the first three goals of the second quarter and establishing an impressive 32-point lead by half time.
Unlike the previous week, the Rebels were able to capitalise on good passages of play with scoreboard pressure.
And, aside from a short lapse late in the third term, the Rebels produced an excellent second half to run out convincing winners.
Coach David Loader said his team had taken “a few steps forward.”
“Any game where you kick 20 goals, you’re going ok,” Loader said.
“We probably used the ball a little bit better between the 50-metre arcs. We probably kicked inside-50 better. That was pleasing.
“Had we been able to do that last week – and we don’t want to keep reflecting on last week’s game – we possibly get a win out of a game like that.”
Loader also declared that his side’s depth stood up under difficult circumstances.
“There were six first-gamers again today – and they stepped in and they played really like they belonged,” he said.
“It’s frustrating while we’re getting a lot of injuries early, it’s also beneficial I think for the group to be able to swing a lot of new guys in and have a look at guys early in the season.”
After quiet games last week, Tom Templeton and Joel Cowan provided some terrific speed through the midfield, while young tall Lloyd Meek (three goals) was a strong target up forward.
Athletic utility Jarrod Berry also impressed with his run-and-carry in his first game back from a serious foot injury.
Unfortunately, the Rebels have once again received several casualties. Forward Shannon Beks suffered a concussion early on in the game, while Sam White and Jack Hutt both reported calf soreness.
Connor Byrne (adductor) and Templeton (groin) will also be closely monitored before next Saturday’s clash against the Murray Bushrangers.
FULL TIME RESULTS
Bendigo Pioneers 2.1.13, 4.2.26, 6.5.41, 7.6 (48)
North Ballarat Rebels 2.0.12, 9.4.58, 14.7.91, 20.8 (128)
Goal Kickers: K. Mutch 2, L. Schultz , S. Simmons , J. Firebrace , R. Free , J. White
Best Players: , R. Free , J. Fox , L. Ryan , . Mahony , J. Burke , L. Tardrew
North Ballarat Rebels
Goal Kickers: M. Johnston 6, L. Meek 3, T. Templeton 2, J. Cowan 2, N. Hausler , C. Lee , B. Lusby , B. Simpson , S. White , J. Berry , S. Beks
Best Players: , M. Johnston , J. Webster , T. Templeton , J. Cowan , S. McClure , N. Hausler
Round 4 vs Murray Bushrangers, QEO Oval Bendigo.