Echuca’s into the top four

By Riverine Herald

ECHUCA smashed Tatura by 61 points at the weekend, locking itself into the GVL top four a game clear of the chasing pack.

But the real test of just how good the team has become is still a few weeks away.

On April 28 the Murray Bombers copped a 71-point beating at the hands of Kyabram.

On July 28 they meet again – at Vic Park this time – and that’s when co-coaches Simon Maddox and Andrew Walker will get a crystal clear understanding of how far they have come.

And have to go.

But for now the team and the club are feeling pretty damn good about 2018 – it’s only round 12 and they have eight wins.

That’s all they managed from 18 games in 2017.

And they know just how much better this team can be.

When the contenders first met the perfectionists this season Simon Buckley was in week one of recovery from his hamstring injury.

Cam Valentine and Angus Byrne both missed the match.

And the discussions to bring Ben McGlynn to the Murray Bombers were still behind closed doors.

A lot has changed.

And with VFL byes that week, Echuca’s listed players Ben Reid and Peter Faulks might even be available for the game.

If the Echuca back six needs them, that is.

Since April 28 the back line that didn’t stand up to the might of Kyabram first time around has been the biggest improver in the competition.

But that doesn’t make the task any easier.

Kyabram have now ticked off the following: longest winning streak in football (55 games and counting, overtaking St Mary’s in the Northern Territory Football League previously held the record) and 1000 days without a loss.

If it’s even possible, Kyabram look to be a better side this year than at any stage in their streak.

Teams aren’t even getting close this season.

It’s a concern that maybe no one in the GVL is going to stop them en route to their three-peat.

But that provides the Murray Bombers with a hell of an opportunity.

A team who wins all the time begins to feel like they have it easier.

A bit of complacency can start to creep in.

Will this happen with Kyabram?

It’s hard to say.

When they broke that 55-0 record we spoke of yesterday, they did it with 193-point win against the hapless Mooroopna.

That’s about as dominant as it gets.

But there is something different about Echuca this time.

Even compared to that first game this year.

There is no doubt the Murray Bombers are a better side.

How much better — like them — we will all have to wait and see.