FEATHERS were ruffled in the third term as if they weren’t already flying.
As the physicality lifted, Echuca United and Moama’s blood began to boil.
The game reached boiling point when United’s Justin Cantwell was errantly struck high in a marking contest — forced to leave the ground with concussion.
Eagles players remonstrated immediately before a number from both sides were involved in a melee which saw United co-captain Phil Hubbard shown a yellow card.
From there, it became a matter of which side would settle fastest and it wasn’t until midway through the final term that United took full control.
‘‘I thought our experience began to shine through,’’ United coach Guy Campbell said.
‘‘For us not to get flustered in a close game was really pleasing.
‘‘We stuck to our processes because we have faith in the system which we’re continuing to build.’’
For Moama, the final siren marked yet another so close, but so far moment in their 2019 season.
In the past month, the Magpies have been left heartbroken by close losses against several Murray League finals contenders.
Despite falling to their ninth consecutive loss, coach Luke Eldridge couldn’t have been happier with his side’s performance.
‘‘They’re the supposed top side and if we’re the bottom end, I couldn’t be happier,’’ he said.
‘‘While we’re disappointed to lose, I can’t question the boys effort and performance.
‘‘But at the end of the day we want to win our first game.’’
In a high pressure game, the inexperience of younger players can stand out in the key moments — whether it be a mistake or missed opportunity.
United duo Billy Barnes and Kynan Sharpe-Long thrived in the heat of the moment on Saturday, playing a pivotal role in the Eagles’ last quarter assault.
Barnes continually broke the lines from tight situations, while Sharpe-Long — who started as the substitute — chased and harrassed his opponents as if his life depended on it.
‘‘When they were injected they brought something different to the game,’’ Campbell said.
‘‘It got the boys up and they continued on with their performance for the entire game.
‘‘As a club we couldn’t be prouder when our young guys perform in the senior side.’’
On the other hand, Moama’s youngsters have been on a journey throughout the season.
And despite falling away in the final half of the fourth quarter the club learnt another lesson according to their coach.
‘‘We’re implementing a lot of game time into our younger guys like we set out to do,’’ Eldridge said.
‘‘They’re still coming to terms with learning all the game plans and structures which senior football has to offer.
‘‘But the main thing is the team is enjoying playing footy together even though the wins might not be coming.’’
Moama will return home this weekend to face a struggling Rumbalara, while United travels to take on Tungamah.