THE MURRAY Football League scrimmage between Echuca United and Moama turned into a battle of strategy on Saturday.
The Eagles were out-coached on their home turf by an all-class Moama line-up at Echuca South Recreation Reserve.
The game plan which had seen the unravelling of top sides like Barooga in recent weeks was thwarted by the Mowers who shut down their opposition in the 41-point victory.
Noah Wheeler returned from his TAC Cup pursuits with Bendigo Pioneers to give his home club a massive hand in the win.
He provided plenty of run and carry on the wing and was dominant through the middle of the ground to give Moama a lot of opportunities up forward.
The 17-year-old capped off the incredible display with three goals to be the highest goal scorer, only rivalled by United’s Duane Hueston who also kicked three.
Hueston’s side looked unsteady in the first half and couldn’t create any run with the ball.
Moama continually rebounded from their forward line and moved the ball more efficiently to be rewarded with easy goals down its own end.
The blend of young talent in Wheeler, Liam Ritchie, Fraser Verhey and Cooper Barber, combined with the experience of seasoned players like Rhys Archard and Ben Welch, formed a dangerous mix for any opposition.
Logan Power was terrific down back and benefited from the guidance of older heads, according to coach Mark Lloyd.
‘‘We have a pretty settled back six who do their homework on other sides,’’ Lloyd said.
‘‘When they go out there on Saturday we have some really good leaders who ensure we get the right match-ups out back.
‘‘We have a game plan we try to stick to when we win the footy and the boys executed that (on Saturday).
‘‘We have a good mix of youth and experience and had an even contribution by everyone.
‘‘It’s those older heads who make sure we get a consistent four-quarter effort out of the team and create that sustained effort.’’
Hueston said United came into the game with a lot more confidence from the first encounter.
‘‘We played very poorly the first time and we thought the way we’d been playing in the last three weeks we’d put up a better performance than what we did today,’’ he said post-game.
‘‘But to Moama’s credit they basically were able to shut us down and rebound the ball effectively and kick the goals when they needed to.
‘‘We probably missed a few too many targets up forward.’’
Hueston said he was held back in the first three quarters and wasn’t able to jump.
Moama’s ascendancy in centre clearances in the first quarter gave the team plenty of scoring shots and meant it had a 10-point lead by the first break.
United capitalised on the opportunities where it got the ball deep to score two goals to three in the second quarter.
Coach Guy Campbell said his side worked hard for most of the day, but couldn’t get the reward when it came to the scoreboard.
‘‘There were simple things we weren’t doing,’’ Campbell said.
‘‘For instance, working the ball over the back line would take five or six possessions and then they would stuff up on the seventh which could’ve resulted in a goal.
‘‘It just stopped us from putting on that scoreboard pressure.
‘‘Moama were a great team; their run and ability to spread and play confident football shone out and was something to learn from.’’
There continued to be only 10 points in it until Moama scored some late goals in the term despite being a player down to be 16 points ahead at the major break.
Mitchell Eade was yellow carded in the second quarter and would miss a week for an incident off the ball.
‘‘It was probably most pleasing in that the boys kept their heads despite having a loose man for a good part of the second quarter,’’ Lloyd said.
‘‘They were still able to outscore them which was a great effort from the boys and a really pleasing aspect of the game.’’
The premiership quarter was the turning point in the game as the Mowers broke away in the third, scoring three goals to four against United’s three points.
They led by 35 points going into the final term.
Hueston got on the end of two goals in the last, but it wasn’t enough to make up the difference.
Goals from Wheeler, Tyler Jones, Lachlan Collins and Jade Pumpa saw Moama run out the game 13.12 (90) to 7.7 (49).
The win saw Moama move into fifth on the ladder and cemented its place in finals.
It’s also the first time in nine rounds it has been placed above United who dropped to sixth.
Campbell said like playing all top sides, it was the small per cent it lacked in the game which hurt the team.
A spread of 11 goal scorers made it difficult for United’s defenders to pinpoint where the next goal was coming from.
Corey Wanganeen kept Moama’s key forward relatively quiet to be named best-on-ground for the Eagles while Jordan Ives played one of his best games for the year to be given the honours for Moama.
Both teams looked to have an easier task this weekend with United travelling to take on Congupna.
‘‘We’ll make the most of the opportunity against Congupna to do everything we need to do well,’’ Campbell said.
Moama will look to claim its second win over Tongala at Moama.
‘‘We’ve got a pretty tough run home after Tongala so we’ll be looking to get the win at home,’’ Lloyd said.
‘‘We’ve got the potential of a few guys returning which will add some pressure on spots.’’