Pioneers battle to halt Oakleigh charge

ATTACK: Jed Brain charges from defence in the Bendigo Pioneers clash with  Oakleigh at Epsom-Huntly Reserve. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

ATTACK: Jed Brain charges from defence in the Bendigo Pioneers clash with Oakleigh at Epsom-Huntly Reserve. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

Pictures: Bendigo Pioneers v Oakleigh Chargers

THE Bendigo Bank Pioneers could not halt the charge by the powerful Oakleigh line-up in Saturday's TAC Cup under-18s football match at Epsom-Huntly Reserve.

Defeated just once this season, Oakleigh showed its a strong contender for the premiership cup in a 142-point win against the Pioneers.

The Chargers were near full-strength, but the Pioneers were not.

"We met them on a day where they were close to having their best team and in hot form, while we made a lot of changes because of Sunday's schools football final at the MCG," said Pioneers coach David Newett.

"Our team against Oakleigh was the most inexperienced I have coached in my time with the Pioneers.

"We knew we would be up against it, and it turned out that way."

Bendigo was kept scoreless in the first half and went in to the final quarter facing a 91-point deficit.

Swan Hill's Arnold Kirby kicked the Pioneers only goal early in the final term.

Newett was at the MCG on Sunday to coach Bendigo Senior Secondary School in the SSV premier league grand final against Box Hill.

The Lions team to play Box Hill includes 18 from the Pioneers squad.

Newett said Oakleigh's midfield dominance resulted in more than 60 entries to its forward 50m.

"There was no doubt about the effort, but Oakleigh was so much stronger around the contest and used the ball really well," Newett said.

"We had a lot of players in for their first TAC Cup match. 

"It was a great opportunity for them and they will have learnt a lot."

The Pioneers did have Morrish medallist Jacob Chisari from South Mildura back after a lengthy setback from injury to play his match of the year.

The gun onballer was on limited game time, as was classy midfielder Jaden McGrath from Kerang in his return from injury.

Chargers' midfielder Alex Urban kicked four goals in a best-on-ground performance and had great support from the likes of Toby McLean, Kade Answerth and Hugh Beasley.

Oakleigh had 10 goalkickers in this match.

Best for the Pioneers was Kyabram's Liam Barrett off a half-back flank and through midfield.

"Liam is a fierce competitor. He just keeps on cracking in to every contest," Newett said.

Mitch Hore from Echuca and Jed Brain from Rochester also played well.

"Jed Brain had a terrific first half, but didn't play the second because of concussion," said Newett.

Kyneton's Jordan Mangan, South Mildura's Jacob Chisari and South Bendigo's Blake Poyser worked hard all match.

The Pioneers head south next Saturday to play Sandringham Dragons at Box Hill City Oval.

The match starts at 2pm. 

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