A wayward Shepparton United had to dig deep to overcome a spirited young Mooroopna side on Saturday.
After booting 2.10 in the first half to trail by 20 points at the main change, the Demons straightened up to slot 11.3 for the remainder of the clash to take an 11-point victory.
‘‘I am pretty happy with the win, our character was tested and it came to the fore,’’ coach Peter Sheehan said.
‘‘We butchered the ball a bit early, we had 29 more inside 50s to half-time and our hunt for the footy wasn’t where it needed to be.’’
Big men Luke Lowden (five goals) and Shane Neaves (one) continued to develop their playing relationship strongly, combining well in the ruck and down forward to prove the difference in the close contest.
‘‘It was probably the best game Luke and Shane have played together,’’ Sheehan said.
‘‘They’ve been getting better every week, but Luke especially was great in the ruck and up forward.’’
While Reid Crowe, Daniel Bowles and Kyle Clarke were all among the best by the time the final siren sounded, it took a pointed spray from Sheehan to get the most out of many of his troops at Mooroopna Recreation Reserve.
‘‘We put the acid on our midfield group at half-time and they responded really well,’’ he said.
Scores were level in the clash at the final break, but even with a man down the Demons found an extra gear to record their second win of the season.
‘‘Matt Spangher hurt his back just after half-time and didn’t take any further part,’’ Sheehan said.
‘‘He looked like a bit of an old man after the game, but he was up and moving so it’s just a matter of assessing it during the week.’’
For the Cats, the match will certainly be one that got away after they had led for much of the day.
Nathan Turner lit the game on fire in the first quarter, booting all three goals of the contest for the term, and finished with six majors to continue his great run of form.
The much-improved forward target now has 19 goals from the first six games and has stepped up well as those around him were felled by injury.
Marquee recruit Romain Grenville was one Cat who made a welcome return from injury though, snaring two goals in the process, while perpetual performers Dean Smith, Clint Riley and Trent Freer were once again superb.
In the end though, United’s weight of possession simply proved too much for the young Cats to repel, despite defender Lachie Devine standing out yet again.
The Demons now find themselves outside the top six by only percentage, but Sheehan does not think that fact will change the way his side goes about their football.
‘‘From the outset you’ve always got to have an aim to play finals, otherwise you’re just plodding along,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ll just keep trying to get better and hopefully that will mean playing finals, but I was just rapt with how the boys fought back today.’’
Clarke, and fellow Murray Bushranger Angus Hicks, are unlikely to feature heavily in the Demons’ quest for finals action, but Matt Di Bella proved an important addition to the side for the first time this season and will surely benefit from the run.
Meanwhile, the Cats face a tough month of football, with fixtures against Shepparton, Kyabram, Rochester and Euroa.