WAGGA Tigers have put their hand up as a serious Riverina League premiership contender with an impressive 26-point victory over Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes.
Tigers came from two goals down at half-time to beat the Goannas for the second time this year, 10.7 (67) to 6.5 (41) at Mangoplah Sportsground.
MCUE went missing in the second half as Tigers gradually got on top and then dominated.
They kicked two goals to nil in a scrappy third quarter and then produced four unanswered goals in the final term to grab an important victory.
They even did it with 17 men for 15 minutes as Nick Ryan was mistakenly yellow carded.
The important win almost certainly assures Tigers of finals football and backed up last week’s big win over Collingullie-Glenfield Park in the best possible way.
It also drops MCUE into second position on the ladder after six weeks on top.
Wagga Tigers captain-coach Matt Rava knew the importance of the four points but was not going to buy into any talk of premiership contention.
“Looking at it, if we didn’t win today, we were going to end up down the ladder with the big group of teams,” Rava said.
“It’s good, we’ll take that four points and now we’ve got Leeton at home next week and we’ll focus on that one.
“We’re just going to take it one week at a time.”
Rava labelled his team’s frantic pressure as the major factor behind the win.
“Same as last week, we put a lot of pressure on the opposition and they succumbed to it,” he said.
He was also full of praise for his defensive group, who were all over the Goannas’ forwards.
“Our backline has been a strength for the last few years now and that’s something we really try to build on every game,” he said.
“Our focus was accountability and helping out our backline, through the midfield, and I think we did that pretty well for the majority of the game.
“So it was really pleasing.”
Rava said the yellow card to Ryan “really kicked us into gear”.
When MCUE did get the ball into attack, Tigers defenders John Anstee, Xavier Brennan, Charlie Bance and James Richards continually won the ball and provided great rebound.
Rava was effective spending the majority of his time up forward, while Jacob Osbeiston, Campbell Lovell, Lahn Shephard and Shaun Flanigan were good through the midfield as Tigers worked MCUE over.
WAGGA TIGERS (67)
3.1 4.3 6.4 10.7
4.3 6.3 6.5 6.5
Goals: (Wagga Tigers) J Buchanan 3, M Rava 2, B Farrell, N Ryan, J Osbeiston, C Bance, S Flanigan; (MCUE) D Rogers 2, T Metcalfe, M Collins, A Dickins, C Huthwaite.
Best: (Wagga Tigers) J Osbeiston, L Shepherd, D Morton, B Farrell, C Lovell, C Bance; (MCUE) J Whitley, D Rogers, P Killalea, T Cohalan, P Griffin, H Collins.
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