Tigers blown away in blitz

By Brayden May

THERE still may be four games left in the Goulburn Valley League home-and-away season, but Rochester’s finals campaign starts now.

On the back of three straight losses — the latest a 94-point drubbing at the hands of the unbeaten Kyabram — the Tigers find themselves one game outside of the top six.

And with games against finals aspirants Tatura and Benalla to come, coach James Flaherty is well aware his side have their backs up against the wall.

‘‘The next four games could be huge for the playing group moving forward,’’ he said.

‘‘We can either fade away like we have in the past three games or embrace every minute of the road ahead.

‘‘I have confidence in our playing group to be able to perform in the toughest circumstances.’’

Against the Bombers, Rochester was on the back foot from the first bounce as the home side slammed on six first quarter goals.

From there, Rochy was only playing catch up but they did manage to outscore the reigning premiers in the final term.

And Flaherty believes the 2019 version of the Kyabram juggernaut is stronger than ever.

‘‘Ky are only getting better,’’ he said.

‘‘They obviously hunger to avoid the same fate as last season,’’ Flaherty added, referring to the Bombers undefeated run through 2018 only to lose the grand final to Shepparton.

‘‘Across every line on the ground they have quality players.

‘‘If someone is able to get in their way it will be a remarkable achievement.’’

While the Tigers struggled to match Kyabram, skipper Nathan Marrone once again led from the front for his side battling hard throughout the day.

‘‘We’re very fortunate to have Nath as a leader of our club,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘He always sets the example, especially for our younger players.

‘‘Having your better players stand up against the best teams is what you always want.

‘‘Nath is going to be extremely important for us if we are to going to make a push for the top six.’’

The Tigers will face off against Tatura on Saturday, with the Bulldogs looking to strengthen their position in the top six after falling to seond-placed Echuca.