Coach says Bears lucky to hold on

April 16, 2018

The momentum swing on Mansfield Recreation Reserve’s football field was almost as wild as the weather on Saturday.

With heavy rain and strong wind peppering Shepparton and Mansfield players, conditions were certainly not conducive to a high-scoring contest.

But the visiting Bears ground their way to a 28-point lead at the main break to take control of the match and set themselves up for victory.

The Eagles would not go down without a fight in front of their first home crowd of the season though, storming to the finish line and just falling short of level-pegging when the final siren sounded.

‘‘Obviously it wasn’t a great day for footy,’’ Shepparton coach Sean Harrap said.

‘‘It was a really pleasing first half, we used the ball quite well.

‘‘But in the second half they fought back really well like we knew they would, and I thought they probably should have gotten us in the end.’’

Ash Holland was monumental for the Bears, despite the conditions, while Nik Rokahr also took to the wet weather game like a duck to water.

‘‘Ash just competed really well,’’ Harrap said.

‘‘He laid a few tackles as well and was always in the game, but he was really dominant in that first half.

‘‘Rokes played up north over summer in some pretty wet conditions and you could easily tell he’s been handling a wet footy, he was very clean.’’

Rokahr’s two goals was only bettered on the day by Mansfield’s Ashraf Davies (three goals).

Along with Holland and Rokahr, Mitch Brett, Anthony Andronaco, Joel Brett and Stuart Hobijn-Allen were Shepparton’s best players, while captain Ted Lindon got through his return from injury unscathed.

For the Eagles, James Herridge, Brett Mahoney, Tom German, Jayden Howes and Patrick Marks were impressive, but coach Cameron Hotton lamented an uncompetitive second term from his troops as the deciding factor in the clash.

‘‘Our intensity was pretty good to start with, but we had a pretty poor second quarter,’’ Hotton said.

‘‘I put it on the boys at half-time to show some effort and to their credit they lifted and played some really good footy in the second half.

‘‘Ashraf was really good, I thought Jimmy Herridge was our best player across the game and Lachie Christopher did a really good job on Luke Smith.’’

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