On paper it looked like a flying start to the season but there was no mood for celebrations at Charles Sturt University when their game against Coleambally was called off early due to a sickening knee injury to promising midfielder John Bowie.
With six minutes to go in the third quarter, and CSU leading 10.12 (72) to 5.4 (34) the game was halted for half an hour, waiting for an ambulance to attend to Bowie with a suspected dislocated knee cap.
When a second ambulance was then required to provide pain relief, the clubs agreed to call fulltime. It was nearly 90 minutes before he was taken to hospital.
It ended a spiteful encounter that threatened to erupt at times and CSU coach Travis Cohalan suggested there could be a follow up to come as the day ended amid accusations from the teams about opposing players.
"Our club will be making some enquiries with the umpires about some of the off the ball incidents that occurred during the game," Cohalan said.
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In a high scoring opening term, the Bushpigs led four goals to three, and then kicked another four in the second to take control.
From quarter-time until the end of the game, the home side delivered 6.8 to 2.3 to repeat last year's first round win against the Blues, with big man Andrew Dickins (five goals) dominant up forward.
Dickins was relieved in the ruck by Dusty Rogers, who added a point of difference to a midfield led superbly by Lachy Moore, while Nick Myers was strong down back on Jade Hodge.
"I said before the game that they'd done all the hard work, we've had a good pre season... in the majority, the boys worked hard, did what we wanted them to do and got their rewards," Cohalan said.
Bowie was also having a big game in the centre for CSU and Cohalan was shattered for the Deniliquin footballer who trained with the Bushpigs last year while playing for his home club.
"John's a ripping fella... We were rapt to get him this year, we thought he'd be one of the better centremen in the comp and I have no doubt that he was on his way to proving that when unfortunately he was injured," he said.
"We didn't sing the song, it was just a hollow feeling. We're a really close club and all our thoughts just go out to John and his family at the moment. It was a sickening incident. It was obviously a real dampener on the win but unfortunately it is a contact sport and we just hope that John's okay."
Fulltime (*called before three quarter time)
CSU 4.4, 8.9, 10.12 (72)
Coleambally 3.1, 4.3, 5.4 (34)
Goals: (CSU) Andrew Dickins 5, Wayde Archibald 2, Zac Stewart 1, Dusty Rogers 1, Lachy Moore 1; (Coleambally) Curtis Steele 1, Blake Argus 1, Luke Hillier 1, James Lyell 1, Theo Valeri 1. Best: (CSU) Andrew Dickins, Lachlan Moore, Jacob Bell, Wayde Archibald, Nick Myers, Dustin Rogers; (Coleambally) Thomas Valeri, Thomas Mannes, Kyle Bennett, Max Hillier, Curtis Steele, Luke Hillier.
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