DAVID Newett's final match as Bendigo Bank Pioneers coach did not end in victory, but he was extremely proud of the effort against the Murray Bushrangers in Saturday's TAC Cup football clash at Epsom Huntly.
There was plenty on the line as the Pioneers and Bushrangers took to the field.
Bendigo wanted to give Newett a fitting send-off as it took on a line-up which had to win to secure its place in the finals.
The Pioneers led 22-14 at quarter-time.
Bendigo's tackling and teamwork was capped by goals by Sandhurst's Billy Evans, Walpeup-Underbool's Luke Coates and Kyneton's Jordan Mangan.
The Coates goal was set up by Kerang's Jaden McGrath spoil in a marking contest at centre half-forward.
Coates ran on to the ball and goaled on the run.
Injuries meant the Bushrangers had just three players on interchange from midway through the second quarter.
Goals by Jake Mellington and then by Nick Mellington after three bounces down the highway flank put Murray in front.
The Pioneers won the next centre break from which captain Jake Maher from Lalbert was freed in a marking contest and goal to put Bendigo in front, 29-27 by half-time.
Murray scored concecutive goals early in the third before South Mildura's Josh Ryan replied for the Pioneers.
A long shot by Mildura's Sam Simmons bounced through to put Bendigo up by four points in the 15th minute.
A great snap by Darcy Pritchard meant Murray led 47-45 at a quarter to go.
The Bushrangers had the breeze in the final term and did plenty of attacking.
Callum Crisp was on the end of a chain of handpasses in the pocket to goal for Murray in the second minute.
South Mildura's Jacob Chisari charged from centre half-back and through the centre where his pass was marked by McGrath.
A pass to McGrath to Cameron Barrett out wide was followed by another pass to Mangan for his second goal of the game.
The Bushrangers took seven marks inside forward 50m in the final term. A run of points was ended when Josh Schache marked and goaled in the 26th minute.
"We could not question the effort," Newett said of the Pioneers play.
"We stuck at it all match and had a crack.
"Stats were about the same, but it was frustrating the effort did not result in a victory," Newett said.