ECHUCA United head coach Guy Campbell says his Eagles must play ‘‘more like Moama’’ if they are to win matches this year.
The bitter rivals faced off to start their Murray Football League campaigns on Good Friday. But the Magpies left the Eagles’ nest the happier side.
Campbell’s side lost the highly-anticipated match in a 78-87 scoreline that underlined United losing the first in the Three Jacks Trophy match series this year.
Campbell, who returned to the field for the first time since his 17 games in 2015, said he had to be honest in defeat, and praised the victors.
‘‘. . . They’ve been playing together for a while,’’ Campbell said.
‘‘Their young kids were really good and worked well with the older blokes – in future we’ll be looking to play more like them. I’m pretty honest and will give credit where credit’s due.
‘‘We had a big build up to the clash with the arch rivals and obviously it was one we really wanted to win. We didn’t get up on the day – they’re a really good side, but there are so many positives to come out of the match.
‘‘It’s just a matter of stringing them all together.
‘‘When you don’t start well your next challenge is to get back into the game, and we did that well,’’ he said.
Moama coach Mark Lloyd said he would cherish the moments after the final siren.
‘‘The boys enjoy each other’s company and battled hard for each other,’’ Lloyd said.
‘‘The first 10 minutes after the final siren went, the boys just loved it and it was pure gold. There’s a lot of respect for each other as teammates, and we love that strong camaraderie between them.’’
Lloyd said he expected United to bring the game to the Magpies, but his side dealt with the pressure better.
‘‘I think it would be remiss of me to think that United weren’t going to come back. They are a strong outfit and in a big match like that, they’re always going to come back at us.
‘‘The boys showed good character to come back and get back in front after United got the lead (in the final quarter),’’ he said.
The Magpies also boasted a senior debutant, and five players in their first game for the club.
‘‘Joel Haitsma made his senior debut, after he came on board at the start of the year. And we also had Tom Campbell, Jake Galpin, Aiden Walton, Jacob Chapman and Angus Grigg play in their first match for us,’’ he said.
Grigg was a star for his side, booting four goals on club debut.
‘‘(Grigg was) a hugely-influential player for us and it was an area last year that we struggled with for a lot of the season having a key target at centre-half forward.
‘‘Angus kicking four goals was fantastic. As good as he was though, it was all the boys out there in the forward line that pulled together,’’ Lloyd said.
In the reserves match, United 6.7 (43) defeated Moama 3.8 (26).
This weekend’s action will see United take on Cobram away after the Tigers defeated Barooga 73-52 in round one.
Campbell said if the side does not fix its issues soon, the season could get harder before it gets easier.
‘‘By the sound of things (Cobram is) a good side on the build, a young side with talented young players that are going well,’’ he said.
‘‘If we don’t focus on our game and fix up things it could be a similar score line next week,’’ he said.
Moama will face back-to-back-to-back premiers Nathalia, which is coming off a 109-point demolition of Tongala on Friday.
Lloyd said it is never easy to host the reigning premiers, but the Magpies would be up for the challenge.
‘‘They have a lot of good experienced players, as well as a lot of younger guys coming through,’’ he said.
‘‘Last season we won one and lost one narrowly over there, they match up very well and I know the boys will be looking forward to it and are raring to go,’’ he said.