The Rural Bank Bendigo Pioneers’ bottom-age players made a late push for selection on the main list for 2018 with some fine performances against the Murray Bushrangers on Sunday.
The Pioneers played three practice matches against the Bushrangers at Punt Road. The Pioneers won the under-17 and under-16 matches impressively, while the Bushrangers dominated the under-18 game.
The practice matches were the final trial games before the Pioneers announce their final squad for the 2018 TAC Cup season later this week.
“We had two good wins in the under-16s and under-17s,’’ Pioneers coach Rick Coburn said.
“The under-16s won by 10 points and they kicked something like 10.17, so they could have won by more.
“The under-17s won by about six goals and the under-18s went down by about 10 goals. The under-18s struggled a bit, but the Bushrangers were already down to their final 25 while we played a squad of 34 as we try to sort out the last few spots on our list.
“Overall, we are pretty happy with where we sit. We’ll finalise the list this week and then we have three weeks of preparation heading into round one.”
The Pioneers’ final squad will head to Melbourne this weekend for a two-day training camp.
The players will complete fitness tests on Saturday morning before the squad spends the afternoon at Carlton’s home base Ikon Park.
The Pioneers will also have a training session at Essendon’s base on Sunday morning.
“We still have 90-odd players in the group and that will be cut to somewhere around the 55 or 60 mark this week,’’ Coburn said.
“The signs are pretty good for the future.”