A Shepparton derby arm-wrestle highlighted the return of Goulburn Valley League under-18s for this year.
United’s youngsters came out with a blistering first quarter and proved strong enough to never concede the lead to Shepparton, winning by 12 points.
Wasteful goal-kicking in the first term could have proved the Demons’ downfall, with a 2.9 (21) return far less than their dominance deserved.
The Bears, scoreless in the opening stanza, finally woke up and brought the heat in the second to trail by 12 points at the break, led by Matthew Poppa and Jayden Gagliardi who finished with a combined five goals.
Both sides found another two in the third quarter and again inaccuracy was a problem for the Demons in the fourth with 2.6, but they did enough to hold on for the season-opening win.
Jye Lewis and Rhys Damon each kicked two goals for United, while Gagliardi’s three led the way for the Bears.
Sam McInneny, Adam Pigatto and Blake Fothergill were the Demons’ best and Andrew Pellegrino and Hugo Ingham helped Poppa and Gagliardi lead the Shepparton fight.
At Echuca, Murray Bomber Riley Clarke wasted little time showing his new club what he is capable of.
The Bendigo Pioneers-listed prospect lit up Victoria Park with a dazzling five-goal haul, as Echuca comfortably handled Tatura by 52 points.
Tatura came to play early though, and even held a slender one-point lead as the teams went to quarter-time.
The Murray Bombers responded well to kick four goals to two in the second and lead by 13 points at the half, and kicked away in the third.
An inaccurate 2.9 in the final term didn’t hurt the hosts as they claimed a comfortable win.
Clarke’s five goals led the way with Luca Molluso and Jack Tenace each kicking a couple, while Liam Tenace, Harry Dent and Bailey Gray were some of Echuca’s best.
For Tatura, Ramman Winmar was the only multiple goal-kicker with two, while Cade Dealy, Alex Woods, Ethan Moor and Blake Bloom were the better players.