Tigers drop out of GVL top six

Cat attack: Rochester coach Steve Stroobants attempts to evade Mooroopna’s Dom Gugliotti in the Tigers’ 54-point defeat at the weekend. The Tigers have this weekend off as part of the GVL split round, before facing fourth-ranked Mansfield a week later at Moon Oval. Photo by 2022

Rochester has dropped out of the Goulburn Valley League’s top six for the first time this season after a Chris Nield-inspired Mooroopna dominated the competition’s Indigenous Round fixture on Saturday.

Nield, with his second bag of eight goals for the season, and the Cats launched an early assault on the unsuspecting Tigers to lead by 37 points at quarter time after kicking seven goals to Rochester’s six behinds.

After quarter time it was a much tighter affair, Mooroopna kicking eight goals to the Tigers’ five in the final three quarters.

In fact, 13 of the Cats’ 15 goals came in quarters one and four as the ball see-sawed between the 50-metre arcs in the second and third terms and only five goals were scored, three of those by Rochester.

The 15.8 (98) to 5.12 (42) scoreline came as Rochester failed to produce a multiple goal-kicker and was dominated in almost every statistical category for the afternoon; in particular uncontested marks and possessions.

Mooroopna took 28 more uncontested marks and had 55 more uncontested possessions as the Tigers failed to match the fluent midfield work of its third-ranked opponent.

As a result of the round 12 domination by Mooroopna, the Tigers find themselves seventh on the ladder after spending the entire season inside the top six.

Adding to the concerns of coach Steve Stroobants is the July 16 draw; the Tigers have a bye this weekend during the GVL split round, with fourth-ranked Mansfield.

The Tigers then face Benalla (who welcomed back former Carlton and North Melbourne star Jarrad Waite on the weekend), Tatura, Shepparton United, Shepparton Swans and Shepparton — the bottom five teams — in the final five home-and-away rounds.

Seymour has replaced Rochester inside the top six, the teams separated only by percentage with seven wins apiece.

The Seymour draw is a little tougher, facing Kyabram (fifth), Mooroopna (third) and Euroa (second) among its final six opponents. It could reasonably expect to win its other three games, against Shepparton Swans, Tatura and United.

That would mean five victories (against teams below it on the ladder) in the final six weeks should be enough to ensure the Tigers a place in the play-offs, which will be the first finals series since 2019.

Stroobants said winners were few and far between for the Tigers, but among them were Charlie Ward.

“He played as a high half-forward and he played his role well.

“They caught us on the hop at the start, maybe because of the Sunday game a week before or the high of beating Kyabram.

“But apart from the first quarter and the last 10 minutes of the last quarter we competed well,” he said.

Stroobants said Mooroopna’s ability to move the ball from the back half into attack was the key to their win.

Nathan McCarty started on Chris Nield, but suffered a corked thigh and Angus Martin took on the challenge.

Key defenders Hamish Hooppell and Jacob Atley both missed the game and would normally have had responsibility for Nield.

“After the bye we expect to get those two back, along with Grant Fuller and Shaun Atley,” Stroobants said.

Hugh Hamilton played his first game for the team and the Bendigo Pioneers have a bye when Rochester is drawn to play Mansfield.

"He will play for us if he is not selected for Carlton in the VFL,’’ Stroobants said.

Mitch Cricelli played part of the match in the ruck, due to a lack of forward-50 entries, which impacted on the Tigers’ scoring opportunities.

He said the team needed the week off and the training load would be reduced significantly during the break.

“We have a few sore and sorry bodies at the moment,” he said.