MANGOPLAH-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes survived a spirited third quarter rally from Osborne to secure their first AFL Riverina Championship victory at Mangoplah Sportsground on Saturday.
Looking to bounce back after a first-up loss to Leeton, the Goannas looked in complete control when up by 33 points at half-time, before the Ostriches booted five goals to one in the third term to close to within a goal.
But MCUE rallied to kick the only three goals of the last quarter to get their season up and running with an 11.10 (76) to 7.9 (51) win.
Osborne was boosted by the inclusion of some Albury stars, including coach Joel Mackie, after AFL Riverina quashed their recommendation Border residents not participate.
Kendall brothers George (four goals) and Lachie (two) booted six goals between them to help the Goannas move to a four-way logjam of teams with a 1-1 record.
Goannas coach Jeremy Rowe said was rapt with his team's response down the home stretch, but added they need to take some lessons from their inability to handle Osborne's third quarter fightback.
"I was really happy with how we were able to get the game on our terms early. We were dictating things and showing the positives we wanted to bring into the game," he said.
"In the third quarter it was all Osborne, they were superb but our guys were disappointing as well.
"That's something we definitely need to work on, that when the game is taken to us we have to be better. But I'm proud of the effort to come back at the end, it was a tough gritty win in the end."
Osborne destroyed MCUE 7-0 in the centre bounce clearances in the third term to give them a real chance of backing up their round one win over Wagga Tigers.
"Osborne started winning the footy around the stoppages and that's what started things. Our response to that was to go back into our shell, there was a real lack of leadership on the field," Rowe said.
"There was an overall dropping of standards, and at that point we need to be better. We know teams are going to come at us and there's going to be momentum swings in the game, we just have to think our way through it a bit better."
Rowe praised Lachie Kendall's job on Osborne gun Connor Galvin on the wing.
"We gave him an important role on a class player, and I think he won the battle on the day," Rowe said.
"He was also able to involve himself offensively and hit the scoreboard."
The only downside for the Goannas was a quad injury to Matt Collins, who failed to finish the game.
MCUE 3.0, 7.6, 8.7, 11.10 (76) def Osborne 1.3, 2.3, 7.7, 7.9 (51)
Goals: MCUE - G. Kendall 4, L. Kendall 2, J. Bouffler, R. Mooney, H. Collins, T. Cohalan, T. Keogh; Osborne - J. Mackie 2, M. Rava 2, I. McDonnell, D. Galvin, C. Galvin
Best: MCUE - J. Reynolds, L. Kendall , N. Collins, G. Kendall, E. Schiller, P. Griffin; Osborne - M. Rava, E. Powell, D. McMaster, N. Perryman, D. O''Rourke, E. Perryman