Tales of woe Bulldogs suffer more casualties of war in loss

By Lauren Bordin

Tatura was all too familiar with its experiences on Saturday afternoon.

Following an impressive win against Euroa the previous week, the Bulldogs were unable to back it up with another four points against Benalla.

It marked similarities to round four when Tatura fell to Rochester after toppling Shepparton the week before.

And for the second time this season the Bulldogs were forced to play with 17 men, while the Saints were sensational at home with their young group.

James Martyn, Jimmy Martiniello and David Mennen were still missing, but that did not hold back the side as it won the game in the second quarter.

Benalla kicked 6.4 to 1.1 in the term with Tatura already two men down on the bench.

Jamason Daniels was forced to coach from the sidelines after injuring his calf, while reserves coach Corey Mallon exited with a severe knee injury.

Compounding matters in the last term was a head knock to Luke McGill as tall Brandyn Grenfell also went off with concussion after kicking four goals.

While the Bulldogs were able to match their opposition in the second half, Daniels said his side could not rebound from the second quarter.

‘‘Credit to the boys for the second half, but unfortunately the second quarter was when the damage was done and they kicked six goals to one and we were down two rotations, but Benalla just got on top and played the better footy and we couldn’t really get our hands on the footy,’’ Daniels said.

‘‘It was a change in mentality in the second half when we knew we had players down and had a poor second quarter, so we came out like we had nothing to lose in the second half.

‘‘So you can look at it two ways — it’s good that we’ve got that resilience, but we hadn’t played good footy in the second.’’

Benalla’s Tom Bennett again dominated and rebounded along half-back, where he was well supported through the middle by coach Luke Morgan and Chris Welsh.

Morgan was pleased with Bennett’s performance as well as the team’s response after an upset loss to Mansfield the previous week.

‘‘Tom’s coming of age and leading the guys. At 23 or 24 some players are at their best and Tom was really a general across the half-back line in the absence of David Mennen,’’ he said.

‘‘To be able to respond from a disappointing loss the week before, I’m happy with the way we responded and the second quarter was a strength of ours to get the upper hand and then carry on.’’

Nick Warnock slotted seven goals, to go alongside previous bags of nine and five this season, while Jamie Dunne and Wade King each kicked three.

Unlike other sides that rely on midfielders chiming in with goals, the Saints won the game with just four goal scorers, but Morgan is happy with how the forward 50 is functioning.

‘‘Our forward line is developing and evolving. Nick’s a key forward target and always provides an option and Jamie Dunne and Lachie Thompson are the smaller guys around there making the forward half more dynamic,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s working better than last year and previous years.’’

A positive for the Bulldogs was the inclusion of a famous Tatura name, with Morrie Serra kicking a goal on debut.

Mitch Elliott, Brad Ryan and Sean Martin were among the small group of players that strung together a complete performance for the away side.