Tatura kicked off its Goulburn Valley League season with a match up against powerhouse Kyabram at Kyabram on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the continued rumblings out of Bomberland about why the game was not played at night, the Saturday afternoon conditions were perfect for football with warm sunshine and a gentle two-goal breeze favouring the northern end.
It would be difficult to argue against the merits of it being a fantastic family day of footy.
From the outset the game was played at a high standard between two teams expected to go deep into September.
Tatura recruit Jason Tutt opened the scoring with a classy snap from 40m before Kyabram asserted its authority with the next four.
Tatura fought back and only trailed by two goals at the first break.
A tough second quarter did not repeat the frenetic energy of the first and while Tatura began to fight back, winning the tackle count and one-percenters, it did not make great inroads into the Bomber lead.
Unfortunately in the second stanza co-captain and reigning joint best-and-fairest Mitch Elliott went down with what appeared to be a leg injury and was stretchered from the ground. He returned to the bench after the break but took no further part in the game.
The third quarter again saw scoring decline with both teams engaging in an enthralling defensive battle that was of the highest GVL standard imaginable.
Both refused to give an inch and rebounded effectively from back half.
The determined Jimmy Nihill (and his flowing locks) and the ageless Linc Wellington were particularly impressive with smart, hard-running football down back, using good hands to break lines.
The Bombers however, continued to hold sway, taking a 19-point lead into the last change.
The last quarter provided some of the best football of the day with Tatura snagging the first three goals of the quarter, two courtesy of small forward Jayden Thewma, to bring them within two points of the tiring Bombers.
However Kyabram was not to be denied and when evergreen full forward Kayne Pettifer snagged two in a row it closed the door on the plucky Dogs, with the final margin sneaking out to 23 points.
There was a lot to like about Tatura’s performance with plenty of reason to believe the season will improve throughout.
Tutt and fellow recruits Fothergill and Sutton were impressive, with Sutton resolutely sound in defensive.
He will be sure to form a great partnership with back-line general Brad Ryan.
The midfield functioned well and but for the fortuitous intervention of Pettifer the result could well have been different.
The high-quality game should also serve as a reminder to those who advocate night games in the GVL.
Saturday afternoon is the traditional home of country footy, particularly when the lifeblood of communities like Tatura is families and children.
There are at least five GVL clubs with the capacity to play night games and that should provide ample opportunity for those in favour to cater for living large under lights. Leave the rest of us alone.
Goal kickers: Thewma 3, Fothergill 2, Cooper, Sullivan, Grenfell, Tutt and C. Ryan.
Best Players: Nihill, Kirby, Sutton, Tutt, Fothergill and Wellington.
Under the tutelage of Mark Rijs and Luke McGill the Development Team secured a hard-fought win against a strong Kyabram outfit which were the reigning back-to-back premiers.
Jimmy Fraser and Jack Ballantyne picked up possessions at will and were the driving factors behind the win.
Fraser was dominant in the midfield while Ballantyne provided versatility and run down back, although he probably needed to apply some more liberal layers of sunscreen given the warm conditions.
Tom Rennie, sporting a new streamlined haircut was a focal point up forward and his three goals, along with those of Anthony Walker, proved the difference.
Rennie has enormous potential to damage in 2019 and there seems no reason why he will not be able to deliver 60+ goals for the season.
Goal kickers: Rennie 3, Walker 3, Mandaradoni, McGill and Morris.
Best players: Fraser, Ballantyne, Jones, Armstrong, Walker and Dealey.
The Under-18s came against the traditionally powerful Kyabram in David Crowe’s first game in charge of the young pups.
Injuries had limited the number of players, but the club was buoyed by the sense of enthusiasm and pride in the players getting themselves on the park.
In what proved a tough day at the office Kyabram prevailed 21.18.144 to 2.4.16 in warm conditions.
Newly appointed captain Matt Rennie provided drive and spark off half back with a number of dashing runs and solid skills, while Harry Murdoch was tough and inside throughout the day.
Will Pyke proved his usual elusive self in front of goal snagging two majors.
With a number of players returning from injury the Pups will no doubt improve in the coming weeks.
Goal kickers: Pyke 2.
Best players: Rennie, Murdoch, Reardon, Macansh, Archer and O’Connell.