FOR THE first time since 2014, Echuca United will play Murray Football League finals after a scrappy win against Rumbalara.
The Eagles were never in danger throughout the contest at the Echuca South Recreation Reserve, but conceded five goals in the final quarter to sacrifice some of their winning margin, 22 points ahead at the final siren.
They would have expected a more impressive winning margin given Rumbalara’s struggle in 2017, but with the mission of returning to finals accomplished, it was a successful day.
Zach Mihocek made it 10 goals in two weeks with another four to again lead the way for the Eagles up forward.
Rumbalara failed to field an under 17s or reserves side to face United, and seniors coach Guy Campbell was disappointed with the environment it created.
‘‘We won, which was great, but the game went with the flow of the day, and that was no under 17s and no reserves then the senior match,’’ he said.
‘‘It just takes the sting out of it and makes for an indifferent game.
‘‘We got the job done, but it was by no means impressive.’’
United seized control from the opening bounce with four goals in the first term to take a 21-point advantage to the first break.
Rumbalara worked its way into the contest and started to even up play around the ground, but the Eagles’ wayward kicking return of 3.5 (23) for the term prevented them getting further on top; United at half-time ahead 50-26.
The game still somewhat in the balance, the Eagles put it to bed before three-quarter-time allowing just a single behind for the quarter, themselves converting three goals up forward to move 42 points ahead.
And with a win sealed, the intensity dropped allowing Rumba 5.4 (34) in the last, United eventual winners 12.11 (83) to 9.7 (61).
Jamie Ferguson and Phil Hubbard also delivered up forward, kicking two goals each.
In a show of depth and strong junior development, a number of the Eagles’ reserves and under 17s players stepped up to produce for the senior side with debutantes Nick Witchell and Shane O’Donnell named in the best.
‘‘That was the highlight of the day, the young blokes who really did their jobs,’’ Campbell said.
‘‘As for everyone else, it was a pretty quiet day but that happens in football and it’s lucky we were still able to come away with the win.
‘‘The fact that we won was a positive, and the ability to know we could still win the game on a flat day.’’
United has the bye this week before facing Finley the week after, Cobram and Numurkah next to complete the season.
The games increase in difficulty in the lead-up to finals and Campbell said that was a positive.
‘‘For us, it’s definitely a good thing to be building towards a tough last game and then what will be a tough final,’’ he said.
‘‘Injuries are hurting us at the moment, but our young blokes are doing well.’’
With the bye this week, United will face Finley on August 12 in what should be a comfortable result.