Back on track

May 31, 2017

Nick O'Connor

No stopping him: Rochester's Dillon Williams might have been sporting a bandage over two stitches but made no difference to his game, as he excelled in a best-on-ground performance.

ROCHESTER took a big step towards getting its season back on track with a 22-point win against Echuca on Saturday.

A five goals to nil third quarter was the key stretch for the Tigers and killed off the fight from the Murray Bombers.

The win means Rochester is still in the mix for 2017, now with a 2-4 record and outside the top six only by percentage.

And should it continue to find better form it could close the three-game gap to the top five, with a more favourable schedule to play out over the next five weeks.

Coach James Flaherty said the performance was much needed after a slow start to the year.

‘‘It was a lot more pleasing, we played with a bit more consistency and finished the game off well,’’ he said.

He said his team was pleased to get a potentially season-defining win against a dangerous Echuca line-up.

‘‘We rate Echuca very highly, their forward line is tall and dangerous and they’ve got quality right through the midfield,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘This week was very important for our season and it’s good to get the win.’’

Rochester made a quick start, building a 13-point lead by quarter-time to take control of the game.

Having conceded the first five goals in its previous game against Benalla, Flaherty said a fast-start had been important against the Murray Bombers.

‘‘It was one of our key areas to improve, so to be two goals up at quarter-time was very pleasing and we were good after that,’’ he said.

Echuca kicked the first two goals of the second quarter through Ruory Kirkby and Dean Haydon to close right back in on its opponent.

But Rochester was up to the challenge and closed the half the better of the two sides, Perry Oliver’s third goal shortly before half-time extending the lead to 15 points.

And the 5.1 (31) to 0.4 (4) third quarter largely put the game to bed with the Tigers 41 points in front at the final break.

Bailey Wileman kicked the first of the quarter before Oliver added his fourth goal. Jarod Bacon kicked his second and third goals and Nick O’Connor slotted one as well to leave the Tigers in a brilliant position.

‘‘We were going with the wind which helped, but the endeavour from our midfielders was great and it gave our forwards plenty of opportunity,’’ Flaherty said.

Echuca kicked the only three goals of the final quarter but it was too little too late; Rochester 22-point winners 11.8 (74) to 7.10 (52).

The coach said Dillon Williams’ performance on the half-forward flank was important for the side along with Oliver’s bag of four goals.

And he added consistency, as always, had been a key factor in winning the game.

‘‘We played three really good quarters of football and then fell off for one,’’ Flaherty said.

‘‘In the weeks before we’ve been playing in patches, with 15 minutes good and then bad and then good and so on.

‘‘The consistency from the group was great along with our tackling and pressure.’’

A trip to Shepparton is next for the Tigers, with a game against the winless Swans a great opportunity to make it two wins in a row.

‘‘We can’t take any side for granted, we are confident but we need to perform,’’ Flaherty said.

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