Murray Bushrangers have not won a game since July, but will still play a part in this year’s TAC Cup finals series.
The Bushies lost to Gippsland Power by three goals on Sunday, their fourth consecutive defeat since Murray disposed of the Bendigo Pioneers in round 14.
Entering the finals this week against Sandringham Dragons, Bushrangers coach Leon Higgins said coaches would look to reinstall belief into their side before Sunday’s match.
‘‘We’ll just build their confidence, they’ve played well enough to play in finals and they’ll take confidence out of that and attack this game with real confidence,’’ Higgins said.
Mooroopna’s Laitham Vandermeer will be keen to lead from the front, having been influential since returning to the Bushies following the end of the school football season.
He was potent on the wing in his side’s loss with Higgins pleased by Vandermeer’s consistency.
‘‘He was terrific again, he’s been playing really well for a month now and showing plenty of run and kicking well,’’ he said.
Blustery conditions at Collingwood’s old home ground at Victoria Park made scoring difficult, with the Power taking full advantage of kicking with the wind in the opening term.
Taking a three-goal lead into quarter-time the situation could have been much more dire for the Bushies.
Gippsland scored just two goals from 11 scoring opportunities while Murray could register just three points.
But the club’s fortunes turned around as the Bushies were assisted by the breeze in the second term.
Shepparton United’s Zane Barzen kicked the first of a string of three goals that allowed his side to head into the main break three points ahead.
‘‘I think we just adjusted to the tempo, the opposition played quite fast and then the boys found their feet and scored pretty quickly,’’ Higgins said.
But unable to continue this form in the third quarter, the Bushies trailed by 29 points heading in to the final term.
With Higgins asking his players to show the desire from earlier on in the season, the side lifted kicking four of the six goals scored in the final term.
But falling short, the Bushrangers locked in a fifth place finish on the ladder with an elimination final against the Dragons to come on Sunday.
●Murray Bushrangers youth girls star Rebecca Webster has been named one of the best young talents in the country, included in the NAB AFL women’s under-18 All-Australian team.
The Benalla talent who stars with Mooroopna in the Shepparton District Junior Football League youth girls competition was named full-back in the side as she continues to press to be drafted into the AFL Women’s competition.
Eligible to be selected next year, Webster was the only Murray Bushrangers player to be included in the 24-player team.