There was a debutante ball at Deakin Reserve on Saturday, and it was Tatura’s footballers who celebrated their coming of age when the final siren sounded.
It looked as if Jamason Daniels had not fed his young Bulldogs for a while — such was the hunger for which his troops hunted the footy all day — and their collective effort showed in the final result.
And while on face value a 29-point win against Shepparton does not look like a domineering performance, Tatura certainly held the running for almost the entire contest.
‘‘I guess I’m just proud that the boys came out and executed what we think we’re capable of,’’ Daniels said.
‘‘Obviously Shepp are a really good side ... but to come out and just keep that pressure on and really put in a four-quarter performance against the top side is really pleasing.
‘‘That’s probably been a thing in the past, we’ve let sides get a little bit of a run on and we haven’t quite stopped it quick enough.
‘‘So that was definitely a really big focus for us, just to keep the foot down for the whole game and keep that pressure on and hopefully hit the scoreboard the other way.’’
It was a victory which meant so much more than just four premiership points for Daniels’ group as it chases the respect of the wider Goulburn Valley League, with a large cohort of teenagers and future stars crucial to the triumph.
‘‘We’ve got a lot of good kids,’’ Daniels said.
‘‘It’s unbelievable to think that in this side playing the footy that we are we’ve got seven teenagers and probably a few more that are knocking on the door.
‘‘Aubrey Coote (on senior GVL debut) came in and I set him a really big challenge against one of the best ruckmen in the league (Shepparton’s Ash Holland).
‘‘He’s only an 18-year-old and he came in and played his role.
‘‘Ethan Moor, he’s going to be a superstar. I’m not sure if I’ve seen too many kids better than him.
‘‘He’s only 17 years old and he’s already a really good player.
‘‘Billy Cooper’s only 19 and just plays his role — a really quick, really silky player — and really I could go through them all.’’
But on the other end of the age scale, Linc Wellington, 39, wound back the clock with two big hangers on the grandstand wing, sending the Tatura contingent of the crowd into raptures on both occasions.
‘‘I don’t know how he does it, I’ve never taken a screamer or an overhead mark in my life,’’ Daniels said.
‘‘He turned 39 during the week and you just can’t stop him. He’s unbelievable and I admire the way he goes about his footy.
‘‘He just has fun, he enjoys it. He trains every session but he’s really fun to play with and I hope he keeps playing.’’
Tatura’s midfield won the majority of its battles with the Bears’ engine room throughout the day, with Daniels also full of plaudits for marquee recruit Brandyn Grenfell.
‘‘It’s a luxury to have someone like him (Grenfell) in the side. He copped a bit of a stinger (on his shoulder), but he’s just such a competitor,’’ Daniels said.
‘‘That’s what we want, we just want competitors who sometimes things might not always go your way but you have to fight through that, and most of our boys did that today which was pretty pleasing.
‘‘And he definitely did that today. He came out after half-time and was sore but he fought through it and kicked two fairly important goals for us.
‘‘That’s probably one thing, we do bat quite deep in our midfield this year and we’ve got guys who have really relished the opportunity to go in there.
‘‘Civa (Andrew Ciaverella) just had that look in his eyes today that he was going to win every contested footy, which he did.
‘‘Mitch Elliott, I honestly think he’s one of the most underrated midfielders in the comp. Week in, week out he’ll have 30 possessions, he’ll have 10 tackles and he runs all day.
‘‘Tommy Miller our skipper, obviously he’s gone from half-back to the midfield, he’s as tough as they get and runs hard all day and probably the other one is Jaydan Thewma. He’s been a wingman most of his career and I set him the challenge last week to go in there and he was best on ground and he’s gone back in there today and he’s really playing that role well.’’
But perhaps the most impressive performance from Daniels’ charges came from young forward Matt Ryan, who snagged four goals within a quarter to help the Bulldogs put a match-winning gap on the Bears either side of half-time.
‘‘I’d hate to play on him,’’ Daniels said. ‘‘He’s probably 6ft4in and he runs 100m quicker than any bloke at our footy club pretty much, and he can play like a small when the ball’s on the ground.
‘‘He takes the ball at the highest point so it makes it very hard to defend and he’s only going to get better and better.
‘‘He’s only 20, 21, I think, and he’s starting to show the competition what we know he’s capable of, so it’s really exciting for him and for us.’’