FOR a much anticipated clash it was almost a complete fizzer — another Kyabram percentage builder.
The Bombers hosted its grand final rival from last season, Shepparton, at Kyabram on Saturday and the outcome was much the same: Kyabram too good. Almost 11 goals this time, to be precise.
Unlike a lot of their appearances this season in which they struggled early, the Bombers hit the ground running. And with the breeze at their backs they kicked seven goals to Shepparton’s nil in the first quarter, and thereafter it was always going to be tough for the visitors.
The Bears tried hard in the second quarter to get back into the game, slotting four unanswered goals to Kyabram’s one. But the home side was back in almost full control in the second half to record its 48th successive victory.
And rival sides would shudder to know Kyabram was without many of its regular senior players in Jordan Williams, Axel Childs, Aaron Hayes, Tom Holman, Kyle Mueller and Hayden Gemmill.
Hayes and Holman were carrying injuries and weren’t risked.
The Bombers promoted Under 18s player Riley Ironside for his first senior game and weren’t disappointed.
A stylish left footer, he has been playing with the Bendigo Pioneers and has ‘class act’ stamped all over him.
The Bombers had a lot of fine contributors, none better than its two most consistent players, onballer Liam Ogden and utility star Lachie Smith.
Ogden was busy all day as he usually is and Smith, again snubbed by Footscray VFL side, was outstanding in defence and attack with his trademark strong marking well to the fore.
He had most support when in defence from Liam Barrett, who was steady all day.
Apart from Ogden other onballers in Patrick Wearden, Sam Sheldon Brad Whitford, Michael Mattingly, Nick Coulstock and ruckman Zac Norris ensured the ball was rolling Kyabram’s way for most of the game.
Bailey Bell also did a lot of good work in Kyabram’s forward half.
Up forward, coach Paul Newman’s comeback continued to pick up steam. His trademark uncanny marking was on display and resulted in some personal goals, some assists — and several misses.
Kayne Pettifer’s three successive goals at the end of the first term also hurt the Bears and Brad Mangan was a constant dagger for Shepparton with his strong body work and marking.
Cade Mueller’s second half in defence was pleasing for one of the emerging younger players in the side.
Teams can kick goals at times against the Bombers if they take their foot off the pedal, but when it looks like the Bombers might be struggling — as it appeared briefly to be in the second term on Saturday — they have the manpower to turn the tide back in their favour in a flash.
There is just no substitute for depth and class.
My best for Kyabram were: Liam Ogden, Lachie Smith, Patrick Wearden, Sam Sheldon, Brad Whitford, Liam Barrett, Zac Norris and Brad Mangan.
■Kyabram reserves kicked four goals in the first four minutes of its game, but only another five more for the match. It was another easy win, however, despite a lot of shots on goals squandered — the Bombers registered 25 behinds in the 60-point victory.
Kyabram’s onballers, led by Coby McCarthy, who returned after injury, Charlie McLay, Connor Cowley, Dom Watt and Josh Dillon, were able to get Kyabram moving from the stoppages, with support from dominant ruckmen Kyle Fitzgerald and Zane Coventry.
Coventry started in attack and later went onto the ball.
The Bombers also got a solid game out of the talented Zane O’Donnell while Dan Gentle and Zaid Besim got their share of the Sherrin.
Leading goalkicker Makenzie Ryan again took some strong grabs but was off target with his kicking and finished with one.
■Kyabram thirds suffered their first loss for the season in a real arm wrestle.
It was only in the dying moments that Shepparton got a couple of quick goals to seal a nine-point win.
The efforts of onballers Ben Turpin, Daniel Lawson, Mitch Gugliotti and Harry Browning-Briese kept Kyabram in the game right to the finish.
Browning-Briese was impressive firing his team from the ruck, with prodigious leaps and knockouts in the second half.
Jacob Liversidge continued his purple patch in defence, with another impressive display.
Cooper Vick also put his class on show many times in the clash along with key forward Sam Langley and ruckman Ben Napier.