After a tight first half the Deni Rams were unable to keep up with rival Finley, going down by 43 points in front of a big crowd under lights in the annual Good Friday clash to start the Murray League season.
The much improved Cats led at every change, with Finley skipper and former Deni Rams player Lachie Small starring in the midfield for the home side.
Despite losing star onballer Ed Barlow after the first term to a groin injury, the home side engaged the afterburners to boot 5.7 to 1.3 in the second half to run away with the game.
A mix of youth and experience proved to be deadly for the Cats with youngsters Luke Moore and Mathew Wilson starring alongside Small, Jesse McDonald, Paul Massingham, Shaun Kable and Angus Roberston.
It was a team effort in front of goal for Finley with Robertson (two goals) the only multiple goalkicker for his side.
For the Rams, key defender John Anstee and onballers Rick Gittens, Sam Willoughby and Ash Morris were all excellent.
Aiden Free’s two goals and ground pressure stood out up forward for the Rams, while Jayden Pitts battled manfully all around the ground and shouldered the majority of the ruck work for the visitors.
Final score, Finley 11.13 (79) to Deni Rams 5.6 (36).
The first term lived up to the hype, with the Cats edging their way in front by eight points at the first break.
Another tight term saw Finley extend their margin to 14 points with the young Rams right in the contest at the main break.
The Cats took full control in the third and fourth terms, only allowing the Rams four scoring opportunities to their 12.
Despite the margin there were a lot of positive signs for the young Rams side, with playing coach Todd Gallagher proud of his side’s effort.
‘‘Finley had a few older heads and it was probably our execution that let us down late,’’ he said.
‘‘The important thing for me was that the intent was there. The tackling pressure and ability to stick tackles by younger and smaller blokes like Sam Willoughby and Aiden Free was really impressive.
‘‘Sam had an absolute blinder and along with Ash Morris helped us with our pace and outside running which we lacked last year.
‘‘Jake McManus also impressed me. He stepped up after playing thirds earlier in the day and held his own.
‘‘We have some good youth and all I can ask is that we’re all having a go.’’
The Rams now host Rumbalara at Hardinge St Oval on Saturday.
It was one-way traffic in the reserves, with Finley dominant from the get go to post a 74 point win.
A 7.9 (51) to nil first half in favour of the Cats set up the win, with the Rams struggling to keep up with no interchange players.
Final score, Finley 13.15 (93) to Deni Rams 3.1 (19).
Cats onballer Liam Osborne put on a damaging display in the middle to be named best on ground.
Oliver Maddison returned to the Rams for the first time since 2010 to be named the visitor’s best, with Jake Cavallaro, Mark Panton, Jayden Ives, Tom Edwards and Sam Callanan the other solid performers.