The difficult match-ups just keep on coming for Shepparton United.
After battling two finalists in their round-one double-header against Shepparton and Euroa, the Demons will battle a third tomorrow when they host Benalla.
The Saints surprised many with a blistering 51-point round-one demolition of Seymour.
But in a potentially ominous warning, playing coach Luke Morgan said his Saints could play much better.
‘‘We didn’t run the game out well and to lose the last quarter like we did was disappointing,’’ he said.
‘‘So we’re focusing on that and improving on the things we did well, too. We’d like to run out the four quarters and team defence is a huge area for us, too.
‘‘Our focus in pre-season and this week in particular is 95 per cent of football planning is the same week-to-week.
‘‘If we can get that 95 per cent right and maintain it, we’ve got all the confidence in the world.’’
Murray Bushranger Patrick Warner is available for Benalla with a TAC Cup bye week, with the young ruckman able to push forward and make an impact.
United was blown away early in its clash with Euroa, but boxed on beautifully, outscoring the Magpies in the last three quarters.
While honourable losses do not net a side any premiership points, playing coach Stephen Scott took plenty of positives from the display.
‘‘They jumped us, there wasn’t much we could do to stop them early,’’ he said.
‘‘From quarter-time though we dug deep and put ourselves back in the game.
‘‘It could have turned into a 50 or 60-point loss, but we got back into the contest and pretty much matched them for three quarters.
‘‘We started using the football a lot better and started to win the stoppages. We controlled some possession and that really opened the game up for our smaller and quicker blokes.’’
So impressive was his side’s performance, Scott said it felt like one that got away — something it will look to make up for against the Saints.
‘‘We’re a young side, we know where we are at,’’ he said.
‘‘But looking after the game, we were really disappointed with the first-quarter performance, even if we’d kept them to two or three goals instead of six puts us with a good chance to win.
‘‘We were just a bit too far away to peg them back.’’
Morgan himself snagged five goals for the Saints in the Seymour win, but it was a balanced forward line effort that proved so effective.
While Benalla dished out a 116-point belting when it played United last year, the Demons seem improved and will take the challenge right up to their opponent.
‘‘I’ve watched the vision of that game and they played really well,’’ Morgan said.
‘‘They’ve obviously got some talent through the midfield with (Shane) Neaves leading the way in the ruck. There’s some impressive young kids, too.’’
United’s Zac Rundell-Gordon is expected to be sidelined for two to three weeks with a broken nose.