TAC CUP: Rebels reinforce home fort

THERE was a big point to be made - North Ballarat Rebels stepped out at Eureka Stadium the first time this TAC Cup under-18 season, determined to prove why this was their fortress.

They emphatically broke down quality opponents Northern Knights for a 28-point win on Saturday to warn the competition just how tough a road-trip to Ballarat could be.

It marks the Rebels second season win, backing up three-point win away against Oakleigh last week.

Competitive in the opening rounds, the Rebels have started to get reward for their efforts and the growing self-belief was a key to a dominant final term that buried the Knights.

Rebels coach David Loader said it was important for his players to keep building on their good work and confidence.

It also made winning in Ballarat sweeter.

"We've been wanting to make our home ground a fortress and we've been waiting a long time to come here to use our good facilities," Loader said.

"...The crowd was fantastic.

"We're lucky to have people that stick with us every week whether we're winning or losing and that one (large post-match support in the rooms) is due to being at home - it's easier for people to come along and have a look what we're all about."

The Rebels looked at home early in pouring rain, booting two goals in the first two minutes to stamp their mark on the game.

Conditions dried up from midway through the first half and Northern Knights worked their way back into the game, seven points up at half-time.

Loader said his players went away a little from what coaches wanted them to do.

But after half-time, the effort around the ball and the drive forward sharpened.

There is still room for fine-tuning before the goal in set shots and kicking under pressure. The Rebels booted seven points with three goals in the third quarter.

It was enough to keep their edge.

The Rebels showcased their direct, precise football in a strong final term.

Jesse Palmer booted four goals and Jacob Wheelahan kicked three majors, each with two in the final term.

Loader said there were so many players he could promote for great games - the half-back lines were ruthless again, Tom Ludeman was a big improver, Matt Johnston was hard around the ball and ruckman Rowan Marshall was stellar even under the Knights' close check.

"We just had a good spread across the board," Loader said.

"We're really pleased with some bottom-age players too like (Billy) Lloyd, (Ben) Simpson and (Joel) Cowan who were clean with their ball use and kicked the ball to the areas we wanted."

Consistent hard worker Dan Butler sustained a heavy knock in his leg but, fine to keep running, made a good impact.

Loader said his coaches set the bar high when it comes to Butler, and they were impressed with his resilience.

The Rebels enter a competition development weekend and return to action to meet Gippsland at North Port Oval on May 24.

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