WANGARATTA Rovers continued their impressive start to the Ovens and Murray season on Saturday, kicking away from Wodonga in the second half to win by 54 points.
The Hawks travelled to John Flower Oval after a 12-goal win over the Wodonga Raiders last week, however, they were met by a fiercely competitive Bulldogs outfit.
Led by coach Ben Hollands, Wodonga was able to strangle the Hawks into a scrappy contest and didn’t allow their running players to get going.
In fact, Wodonga drew within a kick late in the first half before two late goals to the Hawks handed them a 14-point lead at the main change.
Both sides had their chances in the third quarter but Wodonga’s tally of 0.5 came back to haunt them as the Hawks booted 3.5 to extend their lead to 32 points at the final change.
And with a handy lead, the Hawks were finally able to break free in the last quarter with Jamie Sheahan, Toby Ryan, Ash Pollard and Ryan Cobain getting plenty of the ball on their way to a 17.16 (118) to 9.10 (64) win.
“In the end it was a good win,” Hawks coach Mick Caruso said.
“Once the game opened up we were able to play some decent football.
“It was very scrappy in the first half.
“But the first two games we’ve got eight points and we’ll take that.”
Caruso wasn’t surprised by the attack on the ball displayed by the Bulldogs in the first half and admitted the Hawks struggled to put their game plan into action.
“They are a good contested ball side,” he said.
“They were exactly the same when we came up here last year.
“We were forced to work very hard for our possessions.
“We found it difficult to get out with any clean passages of play to the point where we probably over-possessed it.”
Caruso said he asked for a spark at the half time break and was pleased that a number of the side’s lesser-known players provided the efforts needed to break the game open.
“Ross Hill was really good with his leadership and his spoiling was a feature of the game,” he said.
“Luke Peters and Dale Martin did a lot of grunt work and allowed Jamie, Toby and Sam (Caruso) to get on their bikes a bit.
“I thought we matched them in the grunt work after half time, which was great as they probably beat us in that area in the first half.”
Last week Ryan Stone kicked a bag of goals but this week it was Dan McCullough’s turn as the lively medium-sized forward finished with five majors and added another contender for mark of the year.
Once again the Hawks had 11 players kicking goals, an area which continues to please Caruso.
“It’s good to be that way and that’s the way we are,” he said.
“We don’t rely on any one player to kick a bag.
“Dan McCullough is a very special player and he did some freakish things in the third and fourth quarters.”
The Hawks will now enjoy a week’s rest before regrouping ahead of a home match against Corowa/Rutherglen.