Shepparton’s stars shone brightest on Saturday to steer the home side to a big win at Deakin Reserve.
Nik Rokahr (five goals), Luke Smith (four), Joel Brett (two) and Nick Allan (one) led the way for the Bears against Rochester, helping their teammates shake off a spirited visiting outfit before striding towards success.
After leading by just four points at the first change and 13 at the main break, the Bears slammed home 13 goals to five in the second half to impress coach Sean Harrap.
‘‘I was really happy with the game, our second half was probably the best footy we’ve played so far,’’ Harrap said.
‘‘Rochy really challenged us early, they sort of hunted the ball a bit better than us, so it was good that we were able to get on top eventually.’’
After snaring a Northern Territory Football League premiership with Southern Districts during summer, Rokahr could be forgiven for lacking a yard of pace in his legs.
But the bullocking midfielder has gone to another level already this Goulburn Valley League campaign, with six goals in two games after kicking just 10 last year.
‘‘Rokes has been playing a bit more up forward, we’re quite wary of his workload after his last 18 months,’’ Harrap said.
‘‘But he’s really enjoying his footy and, to be honest, he looks pretty fresh out there really.’’
Anthony Andronaco (two goals) and Mitch Brett were also impressive for the Bears, while Jordan McGregor and Ben Davies produced scoreboard pressure as well with two goals apiece.
The only sour note for Shepparton looks to be a shoulder injury to Matt Ryan.
‘‘Matty Ryan may have done his AC joint,’’ Harrap said.
‘‘He’ll have a scan early in the week and we’ll find out more.
‘‘He was playing really well up until it happened about midway through the third which was a bit unfortunate, but that’s footy.
‘‘It will give someone else an opportunity to step up.’’
For the Tigers, recruit Rhys Free was outstanding with six majors up forward, while fellow inclusion Lachie Watson also impressed.
‘‘I thought our forward line as a whole looked very dangerous all day,’’ Rochester playing coach James Flaherty said.
‘‘I was probably happy with our first and third quarters, but Shepp are a quality side so you can’t afford to just play a half of football against them.’’
Nathan McCarty, Jackson Vredenburg, Tim Letcher and Will Hamilton all fought hard for the Tigers, while Elliott Taylor chimed in with two majors of his own, but in the end the Bears were simply too good for too long.
‘‘We know their midfield is probably their strength and it’s really hard to maintain a hold on them in there for four quarters,’’ Flaherty said.
‘‘When they got on top, they put our backs under a lot of pressure and probably had over 50 inside 50s for the game, which was hard for us to defend.’’