The return of football in the Bendigo Bank Central Highlands FL last Saturday appeared to be welcomed across the board with excellent crowds matches enjoying the opportunity to get out in the autumn sunshine.
On top of that there was the excitement of the hope of a new season for all clubs. Dunnstown gave themselves a strong chance to put an under strength Springbank under pressure and even cause an early season upset. Up until half time this looked a distinct possibility with a slender margin 9 points to the Tigers. Whilst it was a close encounter the standard of the match was not enthusing the crowd and neither side was able to link together smoothly and each of them almost looked short of match practice. The return of Tom Eltringham to Springbank to join with Paul McMahon as the twin targets up forward quickly showed that they will again be a major headache for opposition backmen.
Paul McMahon in particular looks to have overcome last season’s late injuries and was covering a lot of ground around the forward line.
His accuracy in front of goal was the only down side of his contribution. Tyler George recruited in recent days from North Ballarat City had an immediate impact through the midfield. He is only going to add to an already powerful unit.
Another recruit James Reicha also showed that once he becomes more used to the style of play of his team mates and them with his desire to bring others into the play he is sure to be a strong contributor. Dunnstown have to be disappointed with their second half fade out but there were plenty of signs that they have improved. Last year the Towners were unable to get full benefit from Peter McGettigan due to injury but he looks fit to start this year and showed some of the form which had him in the Victoria Country representative side in 2009.
Veteran ruckman Mark Stewart was crucial in the manner in which Dunnstown was able to stay in the match during the first half and an injury early in the second half was the biggest factor in allowing Springbank to gain control of the game. Whilst they have started their premiership defence with a win Springbank will not be overly satisfied with how they played and Michael Searl and Nick Couch will be looking for an improved showing against Beaufort next week.