Murray Bushrangers took to Eureka Stadium a day after Port Adelaide’s defeat of the Western Bulldogs but did not find a nugget of gold.
Despite the Bushies going down to TAC Cup top side Geelong Falcons by 22 points there were still particles of the precious substance to be found.
On a triple-header of under-18 games in Ballarat, the Bushrangers matched their opposition from the outset, but could not impact the scoreboard.
Murray coach Leon Higgins said Geelong’s class had his side under sustained pressure.
‘‘I think we were competitive for most of the game, it was just a poor start which made it hard,’’ he said.
‘‘It was a high-pressure game and we didn’t execute our kicks really well and didn’t use the ball well enough.’’
The Bushies failed to register a goal in the first quarter, kicking their first and only major of the first half via Albury’s Doulton Langlands late in the second quarter.
But the shape of the game turned around drastically in the third term when Joe Richards (Wangaratta Magpies) in an inspired 15 minutes contributed four goals.
With two more added in a six-goal-to-three third quarter,the margin was an achievable two goals at the final change.
But the Falcons held on to record the victory, sending the Bushies out of the top four.
Geelong snared a late goal in each of the four terms which made up the final margin, but Higgins was still proud of how his side matched up against the benchmark team of the league.
‘‘They’ve probably got the best midfield in the competition, but I was pleased with our guys,’’ he said.
‘‘To be fairly even in the ruck and midfield area is a good result, we just had some lapses at the end of every quarter.
‘‘Jordon Butts played really well again, Laitham Vandermeer was solid and Ben Paton had probably his best game for the year.’’
Murray Bushrangers 0.2, 1.4, 7.4, 9.7 (61)
Geelong Falcons 4.4, 5.9, 8.10, 12.11 (83)
Murray Bushrangers: Doulton Langlands, Joe Richards, Jordon Butts, Ben Paton, Laitham Vandermeer, Nick Murray.
Murray Bushrangers: Joe Richards 4, Doulton Langlands 3, Ben Paton, Jessy Wilson.