Rebels step up against Dandenong

SIX wins in a row and the North Ballarat Rebels are starting to effectively carry out their game plans with little instruction during play.

This time, the Rebels kept chipping ahead a bit more each quarter to build a 44-point win against TAC Cup top-four rival Dandenong Stingrays at Eureka Stadium yesterday.

Rebels coach David Loader said his team and their methods were shaping out nicely in polishing off another assignment.

Co-captains Josh Webster and Keegan Mason both set the tone with strong, solid skippers’ games.

“The boys have been buying into the way we want to play – they’re the guys that have to run it out on the field,” Loader said.

“Players are really starting to dig in and run it themselves.”

Loader said there was always scope for improvement, but he could not fault players’ form – almost all players in action reached double figures in possessions.

He said wins were a good reward for all the hard work about the Rebels’ camp.

Country round this week – completing the metro rounds played pre-round one – has levelled the competition and, importantly, cleared the ladder for a true indication of where teams measure up.

The Rebels are now one of four teams ranked three to six that are locked on six wins and four losses. One is the Western Jets, who trek to Eureka Stadium next Sunday, fresh off a bye.

Loader said it was always a good challenge to play more highly ranked teams.

The Rebels’ bite in the opening term set up their win against the Stingrays. It was a handy two-goal buffer kicked against the breeze and, with sustained pressure around the football, it kept pressure on the Stingrays.

Defender Jacob O’Beirne produced one of his season’s best games, with more than 30 possessions.

Webster, once again, relentlessly patrolled the half-back lines.

Keegan Mellington made his first game back from 14 months off with a knee injury and Loader said his charge, who booted one goal, was better off for the run.

Matt Johnston booted four goals and Jesse Palmer, three, to lead the Rebels’ goal kickers.

Both teams featured six players on the bench to allow limited game time for Vic Country under-18 representatives that are preparing for a title-deciding match against South Australia on Friday.

Loader said it was great experience for all players to play in front of a large crowd, helped by the match being a curtain-raiser for North Ballarat Roosters and Richmond in the Victorian Football League.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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