An honourable loss or a lost opportunity?
That’s the question being asked of the Tatura brainstrust as the club ponders yet another close loss.
The Bulldogs challenged their more fancied opposition in the early stages of the final quarter, when they drew to within 13 points, but were unable to sustain the pressure and eventually faded to a 27-point defeat.
Shepparton’s ability to transition from defence into attack was the difference between the two sides as their two key forwards took full advantage of the relentless supply from the midfield with seven goals apiece.
All seemed lost for the Bulldogs at half-time, when they trailed by 41 points and were staring down the barrel of their first comprehensive defeat.
However, a dominant third quarter saw them slam on five goals to the Bears’ two to draw within 25 points at three-quarter time.
The crowd sensed an unlikely recovery as the Bulldogs kicked the first two goals of the final quarter and drew within 13 points.
However, just as they young Bulldogs sniffed victory, the Bears broke their hearts with successive coast to coast goals.
James Sullivan was the Bulldogs’ best player as he gathered possessions through the midfield and up forward, while the performances of Linc Wellington and Paul Kirby were something to behold.
Youngsters Matt Ryan and Colby McDonald showed potential up forward with seven goals between them, while Tim Lanyon and Andrew Ciavarella battled hard all day.
The question remains — honourable loss or lost opportunity — and after bridging the gap to 13 points early in the last quarter, it would seem more likely it was a lost opportunity.
Final scores: Shepparton 18. 15. 123 defeated Tatura 15. 6. 96.
Best players: James Sullivan, Linc Wellington, Paul Kirby, Tim Lanyon, Andrew Ciavarella and Matt Ryan.
Final scores: Shepparton 7. 10. 52 defeated Tatura 6. 6. 42.
Best players: Daniel Maher, Steve Beale, Paul Mahoney, Ayden Maher, Jonah Vraca and Corey Mallon.
Final scores: Shepparton 12. 15. 87 defeated Tatura 2.2. 14.
Best players: David Comi, Brodie Sanders, Tristan Castle, Matt Lange-Richards, Zac Samkakai and Aiden Moor.