Both Deakin Reserve tenants entered the Goulburn Valley League season opener with a new coach at the helm.
Shepparton United’s Stephen Scott and Shepparton’s Sean Harrap are stalwarts of their clubs, taking on the roles after those initially in the top job chose to follow other pursuits.
Scott was buoyed by his side’s first outing under his guidance having put an emphasis on a return to mastering basics.
What the side produced showed the Demons should not go through the season winless, despite Shepparton enjoying a nine-goal win.
Certainly the Bears had not yet warmed into the season and did not show all the sleek moves that earned them a way into last year’s grand final.
But with leaders needing to step up in a young side, Scott was pleased with the older players’ leadership.
‘‘I thought the experienced guys were really good and with the young guys there was a good balance and there are some good players coming through,’’ he said.
‘‘I was pretty happy with the boys overall and there were a lot of positives that came out of the game, so it was good to see how we measured up against a grand final side in Shepp.’’
Primary ruckman Shane Neaves covered plenty of ground as Shane Sali took control of defence.
Now a seasoned senior player having been a fixture in the senior side since 2012, Matt Di Bella was in among the action.
While the Demons looked down and out early in the third term when their opponent began to take hold of the match, United dug deeper.
With the margin extended to 39 points, back-to-back goals from Jack Norman and Sali showed some fight in the group, despite the eventual blowout.
Shepparton struggled with inaccuracy around goals, although Luke Smith retained his keen eye for the sticks with seven majors.
As key forward John Bradaric continues to miss with a knee injury, Harrap said a new structure in attack would take some time to perfect.
‘‘ We did structure up a bit different and didn’t have a lot of talls, Smithy kicked seven and ‘Rokes’ (Nik Rokahr) got one,’’ he said.
‘‘I went into the game hoping to get eight goals out of the pair and then seven came from Smith in the end, we are just trying to find other avenues for the moment and finding ways to score goals is probably going to be a challenge most weeks.
‘‘We did kick 19 points and Joel Brett kicked four points that all hit the post, so if he kicks them that’s four more goals from a small forward.’’
Co-captain Ted Lindon and Bradaric are expected to be fit close to the Bears’ bye in round five, but Harrap will continue to allow junior players to stake their claim for a permanent senior spot.
‘‘I can’t be dissatisfied with a 54-point win in round one, we’ve still got a bit of time to jell and we had eight players different from the grand final, so it was good to give some guys a go,’’ Harrap said.