THE Bendigo Pioneers kicked off their 2022 NAB League girls season with a 37-point defeat to the Murray Bushrangers at Yarrawonga on Saturday.
In what was an entertaining spectacle with 20 goals kicked, the Bushrangers prevailed 13.10 (88) to 7.9 (51).
"It was a really good standard of footy," Pioneers coach Danny O'Bree said.
"Unfortunately for us, we gave a couple of free kicks away and 50m penalties that cost us goals and in the end, that was probably the difference in the game.
"There's a few things that we can tidy up moving forward and the margin in the end probably didn't reflect the closeness of the game."
The standout player for the Pioneers in their season-opener was Lucia Painter, who impressed with her contested work.
"Lucia probably played a bit of a lone hand through the middle of the ground in terms of winning the ball when it was there to be won," O'Bree said.
"So we've got to find a way to be able to support her a bit more... she carried a huge load for a 16-year-old and just battled hard all game.
"Lexi Gregor played predominantly down back and read the play well. She's 16 as well and that's really exciting for our young players coming through with the experience they are gaining."
Drew Ryan kicked two of the seven goals for the Pioneers, who play the GWV Rebels at Epsom-Huntly Reserve next Saturday from noon.
Murray 13.10 (88) def Bendigo 7.9 (51).
Bendigo goals - D. Ryan 2, D. Greenwood, A. Gregor, T. Williams, M. Pianta, L. Keck 1.
Bendigo best - L. Painter, L. Gregor, D. Ryan, T. Williams, L. Keck, M. Marks.
Meanwhile, the Pioneers' under-16s proved too strong for the Bushrangers, winning by 36 points.
After trailing by seven points at the first break, the Pioneers kicked nine goals to three after quarter-time to win 10.9 (69) to 5.3 (33).
Bendigo 10.9 (69) def Murray 5.3 (33).
Bendigo goals - S. Hobbs, S. Johnston 2, J. Caruso, N. Cox, H. Ripper, N. Pinner, E. Jeffrey, L. Moss 1.
Bendigo best - J. Caruso, A. Franklin, S. Johnson, L. Moss, S. Hobbs, H. Ripper.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.