Matching up against arch rivals Albury Tigers has been a hard task for the Yarrawonga Pigeons in recent years and having a side full of inexperienced young local boys made the task seem even more daunting.
But if there is something that football has taught us, there is nothing a young footballer likes more than a challenge.
With that in mind the boys took to the field with high hopes of upsetting the most physically imposing side in the league.
Albury however had other ideas. Right from the first siren the Tigers imposed their physical presence over the ball and used it with deadly accuracy.
Yarrawonga’s forward line found themselves with few opportunities in the first quarter and when they arrived the shots on goal were continually under pressure.
The backline saw most of the ball and without Scott Oswald, Tim McCauley and Jess Koopman the first quarter could have been much worse.
The young Pigeons found themselves goalless and down by 27 points.
The second started with much more promise with big Dave O’Dwyer setting up Matt Casey for the team’s first goal inside the first minute.
The experienced Tigers were however having none of it, responding with another three of their own. To make matters worse, young gun Mitch Collins-Bye left the field with a suspected broken collar bone and was done for the day.
Yarrawonga had lifted their intensity and were working hard all over the ground.
Xavier Leslie with his silky skills was trying hard to keep his side in the contest and this allowed Jess Koopman to sneak forward to post the home side’s second goal, but Albury keen to snuff out any hint of resistance booted another three that left the home side down nearly 10 goals at the main break.
Despite the looming threat of this turning into a huge blowout, coach Sexton was positive with his charges.
He pleaded with his experienced players to lift, give direction and compete hard and for the youngsters to show the fight and determination that they promised they would bring.
With positional changes and the hope of the supporters, the Pigeons took the field again and didn’t disappoint.
Yarrawonga’s’ backline really hit their straps. Bailey Frauenfelder and Jess Koopman provided plenty of run and drive from the backline and were being well supported with strong marking from Scott Oswald, Beau Seymour and Jake Wild.
Will Gorman used his pace to post the side’s third and the move of the hard-working Ronan Pritchard to deep forward paid dividends with him kicking two brilliant goals in two minutes.
The side was lifting. Mark Whiley and Harry Wheeler had been busy all day and their determination to win the ball was showing.
At the final break the difference was still 51 points, but it felt as though there had been a shift in momentum.
The question was could the Pigeons make the most of it? The answer was yes.
The answer came in the form of young gun Matt Casey.
With Yarrawonga’s midfield winning the ball from the bounce Matt Casey made the most of his opportunities.
His second goal of the game came inside the first minute. This was quickly followed by one from mid field dynamo Harry Wheeler and the side was up and about.
Casey then slotted the next three goals unanswered and things were getting interesting.
Tim McCauley’s physical presence around the ball had Albury second guessing their commitment and youngster’s Ned Mullins and Jack Sexton were providing lots of drive via the wings.
When Wheeler kicked his second and the now unstoppable Matt Casey took his quarter total to six goals, the home side looked as though they might just pull off the impossible.
Albury clearly worried, threw all their firepower into the centre of the ground to try and combat the rampaging Pigeons.
Unfortunately, this did the trick for them.
Albury steadied with the final two goals of the game to run out winners by 35 points but not before the home side showed that with the right frame of mind they can match it with the best in the league.
Yarrawonga 7.7.49 defeated by Albury 7.11.53.
The run of close wins, finally came to an end on Saturday as the Yarrawonga 2nd 18 succumbed to ladder leaders, Albury Tigers for their first loss of the season by 4 points.
It was a physical game of one on one football that was tight from start to finish.
Tennyson Vance played a selfless game managing to hold the league’s leading goal kicker to just one goal.
Joe Gorman, who was matched against the 2018 league best and fairest, played an inspired game taking marks around the ground and giving Yarrawonga first look at the ball from the centre bounces.
Josh Tonna continued his excellent form. His courage in the air and closing speed to spoil, were a delight to watch.
Old stages Ross Mulquiney and Matthew Dwyer both played excellent games accumulating plenty of the ball each.
However, it was not enough as time ran out before Yarrawonga could take the lead.
Hopefully the Yarrawonga team are able to take some valuable lessons from the game that they can use as inspiration for the remainder of the year.
Goals: Yarrawonga: Marcus McMillan 3, Christopher Wilson 1, Timothy Lawrence 1, Marcus Hargreaves 1, William (RS) Woodburn 1.
Albury: Cooper Boyle 2, Benjamin McIntosh 1, Mitchell Scott 1, Kolby Heiner-Hennessy 1, Jackson Carmody 1, Eddy Ziebarth 1.
Best: Yarrawonga: Tennyson Vance, Ross Mulquiney, Joseph Gorman, Joshua Tonna, Matthew Dwyer, Corben Wiles.
Albury: Cooper Boyle, Austin Shepherd, Adam Martin, Alex Rowe, Callum Brooksby, William Haberecht.
Yarrawonga 9.4.58 defeated Albury 6.6.42.
After a strong first half of football the 3rd XVIII were challenged late in the third and early in the last before settling and effecting a solid win.
Following a few weeks on the last line Jordyn Studd relished the chance to play further afield with a solid performance.
Deeper back Henry Lonergan, Tylar Hemphill, Harry Meade and Brandon Fitzpatrick were outstanding in keeping Albury to six goals.
Up forward Sam Mickelson with a mild man flu, stayed closer to goal and finished with 5 majors. Through the mid zone the U16 trio of Pendergast, Smith and Wallden played strong games.
At times the 3rd XVIII running core looked like they might grab hold of the game but never quite did and is worth noting Albury won the second half by 6 points.
At the turnaround: 7 wins: 1 loss: 1 draw is a good start but the season rolls on and the most important game is the next.
Awards: Yarrawonga Hotel- J Studd, Wingates - T Hemphill.
Goals: Yarrawonga: Sam Mickelson 5, Austin Frauenfelder 2, Ned Pendergast 1, Hayden Cartwright 1.
Albury: Benjamin Browning 2, Kyle Cooper 1, Noah Heywood 1, Nicholas Ferguson 1, William Unthank 1.
Best: Yarrawonga: Jordyn Studd, Tylar Hemphill, Henry Lonergan, Sam Mickelson, Ned Pendergast, Harrison Meade.
Albury: Ethan Moore, Nicholas Ferguson, Benjamin Browning, Oscar Hayes, Austin Longfield, Brayden McMenamin.