KYABRAM may have notched its 46th successive win on Saturday when it beat the previously only other undefeated side in the competition, Echuca, but Bombers coach Paul Newman wasn’t a happy chappy.
Newman accused some players of not looking interested at times, particularly early in the game, and gave them a warning that he had spotted some players in the reserves whom he felt could make the step up to take their places.
But the bottom line once again was that Kyabram was just too good for its rival after another shaky start.
Echuca skipped away to a 16-point lead with three of the first four goals of the game. And they missed some easy shots on goal early, hitting the post on several occasions, that could have given them a much more decisive advantage and made Kyabram’s recovery mission that much more difficult.
But Kyabram gradually got its act together and proceeded to kill off the visitors with its usual busy brand of bustling, hard running football, which led to a commanding 71-point win at the finish.
The only downside was a knee injury to gun goalkicking small forward Kyle Mueller.
Mueller fell awkwardly in the first quarter when being tackled and after kicking a goal hobbled from the ground. He was getting a diagnosis in Melbourne this week on the extent of the injury but he could miss several games.
When Kyabram was struggling early it was onballers Nick Coulstock, Patrick Wearden and Mick Mattingly, winger Aaron Hayes and defenders Tom Holman and Sam Sheldon who held the home side together.
Coulstock and Wearden continued to play well and were joined by Kayne Pettifer, Liam Ogden, Bailey Bell, Luke Morris and second-gamer Cade Mueller.
Morris is starting to run into top form and is one of the most gifted players in this side when on song.
The mobile Mattingly took over the role as designated kicker from full back in the absence of Jordon Williams — and did well.
Williams and Axel Child are missing for a month, holidaying in the US. Their spots were taken by Josh Pell, resuming from injury, and Cade Mueller.
Mueller filled the void left early in the game by his older brother Kyle nicely around goals, kicking three majors including a second-quarter gem from the boundary.
And as he does so often, three consecutive Pettifer goals in the second quarter were the first nails in the Echuca coffin.
Jason Morgan worked in tandem back and forward with Lachie Smith, and along with, Ogden ran riot in the second half. Link players in Wearden, Luke Morris, who had been moved into the centre, Mattingly and Coulstock got kicks at will and the defence, led by Tom Holman, Liam Barrett, Lachie Smith and Adam Lovison, almost completely shut down the Echuca forward line. It all added up to another hefty win.
But former Carlton star Andrew Walker, who led Echuca from the front and showed fans why he was an elite AFL player, looks to have a bit to work with. Given that several star players were missing, including dual Morrison Medallist Simon Buckley, there was a lot to like about Echuca’s effort, particularly early.
Kyabram has got the struggling Shepparton Swans this Saturday and you can bet it won’t be taking any prisoners after the coach’s warning on Saturday.
My best for Kyabram were: Tom Holman, Patrick Wearden, Nick Coulstock, Liam Barrett, Liam Ogden, Mick Mattingly, Sam Sheldon, Luke Morris.
■Kyabram reserves also had an easy win, leading all the way after receiving another kick-start from forward Makenzie Ryan, who kicked three of the first four goals.
He finished with six majors as Kyabram eased to a 58-point win.
Ryan was able to capitalise on the work of mobile onballer Connor Cowley, Dom Watt, captain Tom Curnow, Josh Dillon, Kyle Halliwell, Zaid Besim and Locky Dillon from half back and through the midfield.
Ruckmen Kyle Fitzgerald and Zane Coventry were able to provide first use of the ball at the stoppages.
Billy Ryan was also solid in defence along with Tom Schumann and Regan Smith.
■Kyabram thirds started a good day for the home side with a solid team performance delivering a 40-point win.
It didn’t look promising for the Bombers when Echuca kicked the first three goals of the game in rapid succession but Kyabram took control towards the end of the first term and never relented.
Onballers in Daniel Lawson, Tom Burnett, Ben Turpin, Liam Dillon and Mitchell Gugliotti were able to spark Kyabram into action and its defence was solid all day with Harry Browning-Briese and Jacob Liversidge the standouts.
Browning-Briese often turned defence into attack with his hard running with the ball.
Turpin was also valuable around goals with three majors.
Ruckman Ben Napier was solid again and Sam Langley did a lot of telling work.