The Lachie Ash train rolled into a third week as the Shepparton ace continued his dynamic start to the TAC Cup season.
Mooroopna’s Laitham Vandermeer joined Ash as the two players that have heavily contributed to the Bushrangers’ past two victories.
Another Cats talent, Ajak Dang, was also influential in the 16-point defeat of Geelong Falcons, with contested marking a strength as he makes up part of a solid defence, impressing coach Leon Higgins.
‘‘Ajak has been terrific, he’s been going well and is a lot stronger and more robust in the contest this year and improving gradually all through the pre-season,’’ he said.
Higgins was pleased with how his side looked past a 21-point deficit at quarter-time, although conceded there was much to improve in the way of basic skills.
‘‘The message at quarter-time was don’t panic, we certainly had enough possessions, we just had to use them better,’’ he said.
‘‘We had the ball in our half and in the attacking areas, but we were just missing kicks and handballs.
‘‘That was the message to the boys at the end of the game, that it was a great effort to fight back and control the game.’’
With the Bushrangers having just one scoring shot in the opening term at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Bendigo, Geelong threatened to tear the game away.
But a resolute Bushies outfit stemmed its opposition’s flow to keep the Falcons goalless in the second term and a sole point was the buffer Murray had to contend with at the main break.
By no means was the game secured leading into the three-quarter time huddle, but Shepparton United’s Jye Chalcraft slotted home the opening goal of the fourth term to give the Bushies some breathing space.
Shepparton’s Jordon Butts also snagged a major in his comeback from an ankle injury, with Benalla’s Patrick Warner also impacting the scoreboard.
Jimmy Boyer did Congupna proud on debut for the Bushies, with Higgins saying he continued to be a standout ball-user.
‘‘Jimmy was terrific, his ball use was very good, we knew he was a good kick, but he executed it under pressure,’’ he said.
●An end to the Murray Bushrangers’ youth girls’ dominance had to come at some point and the Bushies suffered defeat for the first time in the competition on Sunday.
With a mammoth 14 players unavailable for the match against Geelong on Sunday, including the absence of captains Bec Webster and Millie Brown, Murray fell nine points short.
But Finley’s Hayley Doohan impressed in her debut game, exuding plenty of pressure on the last line of defence, while Mooroopna’s Tamara Smith again made her presence known in the middle of the ground.
With a development bye this week, the Bushrangers will attempt to return to the winners’ list against Sandringham Dragons.