The Bendigo Gold has made an encouraging start in its first hit-out for the pre-season, matching the Northern Blues for three quarters before going down by 29 points on Friday night.
Only a five-goal burst in the second quarter gave the more experienced Blues the edge.
Gold coach Aussie Jones, in his first match in charge, was pleased with what he saw in the sweltering conditions at Visy Park.
“They had 11 Carlton blokes and all their top VFL players out there and we just didn’t know what our young and inexperienced group was going to do,” Jones said.
“We learned that they’re strong mentally and they’re prepared to compete pretty hard. Probably the last 15 minutes of the second quarter they got hold of us a little bit.
“They controlled play and would have had an enormous advantage in inside 50s their way. But what we were able to do was educate the players, because they went against a lot of the basic stuff that we’ve been trying to implement all summer and we got opened up.
“So it was a real good opportunity for us to say if you go out as individuals and do your own thing that’s what will happen, we’ve restructured and all followed the one program and the second half was even.
“Had it continued in the third quarter we would have worried about our fitness base, but the last five or six minutes we were running on top of the ground, we were laying some really good strong tackles and we were able to run the footy forward.
“So from one hit-out we looked in really good shape.”
Former Gold Coast Suns midfielder Alik Magin impressed with his attack on the footy and disposal to be the Gold’s best player.
Steven Stroobants led the way in his first game as skipper, while vice-captain Matt Stapleton, ex-Box Hill half-back Jackson Bolton and Kyabram’s Rhys Clark were also in the best.
Many of the 28 Gold’s players were swung into different positions, with versatility a key focus for Jones.
“That’s one thing we’re really trying to get into our group is flexibility, if you’re a one position player it’s going to be hard to be part of this group,” he said.
The Gold’s next practice match is on Friday night against Essendon at Windy Hill.