The round one clash between the Pioneers and Bushrangers was seen as an opportunity for the Pioneers to break the unwanted sequence of 23 consecutive defeats that had been inflicted on them from their country cousins. In very humid conditions the ball became slippery and, as a result, the game never reached any great heights. The first half saw two very short quarters that only went for 18 minutes each. This was rectified in the second half, with the quarters returning to normal length.
The Bushrangers rotated heavily in comparison to the Pioneers. As a result, you could see them running better than their opponents. With the scoreboard tight in the first half, the Bushrangers began to link up and run through the lines at will in the third quarter, placing the ball into dangerous positions in their forward half. Both sides had some star players out due to school and GWS commitments, however, the end result would’ve surprised many pundits.
Tom Campbell was terrific in defence for the Pioneers. Campbell was terrific in the air and was well supported by Angus Schumacher, and Paddy Dow in the centre Both Dow and Darby Henderson accumulated plenty of ball in the midfield. Lewin Davis was lively, and the left footer kicked two nice running goals to help consolidate a place in the team. However, the Murray Bushranger rucks were very dominant at the stoppages. Ben Patton and Jacob Koschitzke were excellent, and another tall Floyd Bollinghaus was a good marking target up forward. Nathan Oakes was very lively up forward and although just kicking the two goals set many others up. The Bushrangers continually changed their forward structure and this allowed their keys to find space in from of goal. The fast game they played left their opponents in their wake. The Bushrangers linked well with hands from the back half.
Despite being only 12 points down at 3/4 time the Pioneers fell away and watched helplessly as the Bushrangers banged on another seven goals to run out 51 point winners. Once again, the Bushrangers confirmed they will be in the mix come September, especially when stars such as Charlie Spargo return from GWS duties.The Pioneers will need to bounce back next week against Ballarat and will be bolstered by the inclusions of Lochie O’Brien, Brent Daniels and Jye Caldwell. Jarrod Brander and Laine Fitzgerald will once again miss due to their GWS commitments.
Murray Bushrangers: Patton, Koschitzke, Oakes, Bollinghaus, Hicks, Richards, Wilson
Bendigo Pioneers: Campbell, Dow, Schumacher, Davis, Kemp, Henderson