In remarkable circumstances, Tatura’s under-18s side capped off a successful season with its first finals appearance in several years at the weekend.
The Bulldogs’ recovery from having no under-18s team at all last year to a finals-contender this year has been nothing short of amazing.
Tatura hosted Shepparton Bears in the first elimination final at Tatura Park on Saturday and while the scoreboard would suggest it was a tough day at the office, the young Bulldogs acquitted themselves very well and should be proud of their achievements over a long season.
In blustery conditions and kicking against a strong breeze, Tatura had its chances in the first quarter, however it was the Bears who grabbed their opportunity to kick four important goals.
Tatura’s midfield competed well, winning plenty of the ball, but the Bulldogs were unable to capitalise when they went forward. .
They also failed to take advantage of the breeze in the second term and could only add one goal, while the Bears piled on another four.
The second half reflected the first, with the Bears grasping every opportunity and the Bulldogs just missing theirs.
Aiden Moor seemed to be in every contest across half-back and through the midfield and the athleticism of Matt Lange-Richards was a feature.
Mason Farley continued his fantastic season with a dominant performance in the ruck, while captain Jayden Armstrong played his ever-consistent game in the centre.
Callum Minutoli was very lively and Cooper Eyles tried hard all game.
Shepparton went on to win the game convincingly, however the Bulldogs’ efforts should not go unnoticed.
The majority of those in the team had never played with each other before this season and the future of Tatura’s under-18s program looks very promising.
The scene after the game was one of disappointment and lost opportunity, however the sense of achievement among the group was still present.
With coach Joe Minutoli standing down at the end of the season, the club took the opportunity to announce the appointment of popular senior footballer Andrew Ciavarella as one of its’ joint under-18s coaches for next season.
The club is looking forward to building on the efforts of this season and hopes to make further improvement.
Finals scores: Shepparton 13. 11 (89) defeated Tatura 4. 8 (32)
Best: Aiden Moor, Matt Lange-Richards, Mason Farley, Jayden Armstrong, Callum Minutoli and Cooper Eyles.