Gritty Tigers grind down Bulls to notch first win
Railways have shrugged off a persistent Mt Barker to record their first win of the season, as their transition under new coach Troy Leo became more evident at Sounness Park on Saturday afternoon.
Teenagers Sam Steel and Xavier Brenton-Reed made their league debuts, making it four first-gamers in two weeks under Leo who has put plenty of faith in his young stocks.
After an absorbing first half where scores were level at half-time, the Tigers were able to get in front of the home side with three goals to one as Kleemann medallist Joel Want along with in-form midfielder Logan Stubber combined well with mobile ruckman Shane Braimbridge.
The visitors began to get control around the stoppages and they repelled well off half-back to lead by 10 points at the last change.
The Bulls’ task became tougher with prime midfielder Nic Chidgzey playing no part in the second half after coming off sore in a bump with Bodhi Stubber, suffering a suspected AC shoulder injury.
The two sides traded goals for much of the final term before the Tigers booted the last three goals of the game to secure a 27-point win.
The Bulls had the momentum in the second term, kicking three consecutive goals with the last a result of Chidgzey taking the hit and his teammates winning the ball to surge 14 points clear.
Late goals to Want and then skipper Bodhi Stubber, again tried at centre-half-forward, proved crucial however as the Tigers fought hard to go in level at the break.
Stubber, Want and Mitch Green played big roles through the middle while Braimbridge was a revelation in the ruck winning a number of clearances on his own.
Zak Hortin had a terrific battle with Bulls full-back Adam Tissott, finishing with three goals while Kane Shephard (two goals) was lively and youngster Ryan Davies spent large periods of livewire Jesse Wynne.
Wynne was shut out of the game by the Tigers, another key part in their 13.9 (87) to 8.12 (60) triumph.
“I’m happy to get a win especially with a young group, we had seven blokes in the middle of the song,” Leo said.
“These young guys deserve a shot.
“I was pleased with our work-rate and defensive transition and the forward line was a bit more functional but the skill level was still not where it needs to be.”
The major concern for the Tigers was the loss of defender Michael Parker, who had his front teeth knocked out.
The Bulls were best served by evergreen pair Peter Taylor and Sam Lehmann, Brent Parsons was again good across half-back and Dionne Woods threatened to blow the game apart but finished with 3.6.
“We’ve got to remain positive, it was much better than last week,” Bulls coach Brad Hook said.
“I think the last five minutes of every quarter that kicked a couple of goals, their extra fitness.”
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