A valiant effort by a youthful Dragons outfit wasn’t enough to take down a full-strength Eastern Ranges side at Trevor Barker Oval, going down by 25 points.
With APS Football ramping up along with the NAB Academy games during the weekend, the Dragons were without some serious firepower.
This made way for some great news, nine debutants getting an opportunity in the blue, white, and maroon.
The Dragons came into the match with a 3-1 record, looking to make it four wins in a row.
The Ranges were 1-3, looking to break a streak of two losses, their latest a one-point defeat to the Brisbane Lions Academy.
Both sides set out for early domination, however, neither side was able to attain ease with ball handling on a dewy and slippery Trevor Barker Oval.
The Dragons were able to create forward 50 entries within the first five minutes, however, to no avail, unable to register a score.
It took ten minutes for the first score in the game, with Eastern converting the first major of the game.
A quick reply two minutes later was sorted by Ben Hempel outside 50, who kicked inwards to O’Leary, who dribbled through the first goal of the game and his Dragons career on debut.
The next five minutes saw a similar contested battle seeing the ball travel back and forth.
A late lapse in concentration saw the Ranges pile on three goals in the last four minutes to extend the lead to 20 points with one minute remaining.
Some fast and smart midfield transition from the Dragons made way for one last shot on goal courtesy of a down-field free-kick.
Angus McLennan slotted the set shot right before the quarter-time siren, reducing the margin to 14 points at the first break.
The start of the second quarter saw a fired-up Dragons outfit following a firm quarter-time talk from Coach Wayne Cripps.
The Dragons applied early forward pressure and were rewarded within the first three minutes, with the goal of the day being kicked by Ben Hempel who slotted a magnificent goal on the run from 55 metres out on a slight angle.
The Ranges broke the Dragons' early momentum five minutes into the second quarter, creating space inside their forward 50 to snap for their fifth.
The Dragons were able to halt another streak of goals for the Ranges and created more opportunities for themselves.
Chris Rousakis, one of nine first gamers, was deadly on the scoreboard, kicking a terrific snap from 35 metres out, assisted by a great run and carry play from Will Brown.
Clarke had his first opportunity late in the second quarter to reduce the margin to under a goal, however, his snap went wide.
The Ranges increased the forward 50 pressure and caught Macnab 40 metres out for holding the ball, allowing them to extend the margin out to two goals.
Much like the first quarter, the Dragons capitalised in the last minute of the quarter cultivated through some terrific centre clearance work by Ned Crowe, who was able to find Brown 30 metres out, who snapped his first goal.
The Dragons went into the major break trailing by 12 points.
Ruckman Max Ramsden made an impact early in the third, marking inside 50, however, unable to convert the set shot.
Birks and Benton combined inside 50 but were also unable to convert a major.
Charlie Clarke started to find his groove in the game, using his silky ball-carrying skills to find Rousakis deep inside 50, who snapped his second.
The Dragons had yet again reduced the margin to six points, a recurring theme that they were unable to overcome.
The Ranges capitalised on a bad defensive 50 turnover and extended the lead back out to 12.
Crowe once again was electric out the middle who lowered his eyes and found Angus McLennan on the lead 30 metres out who was able to convert the set shot.
This brought the Dragons back to six points behind, the closest they would get for the remainder of the game.
The last ten minutes of the third saw an undisciplined Dragons outfit who were being penalised for density rules and small tussles with the opposition.
The Ranges kicked three goals in the last ten minutes and pushed the margin out to a game-high 28 points, leaving a monstrous task for a youthful Dragons side.
The Dragons put some early pressure on the Ranges, with Max Ramsden and Hugo Hall-Kahan getting opportunities early, both unable to convert a major.
Five minutes in Hugo Birks earned himself a 50-metre penalty, which he slotted with ease from 35 metres out, reducing the margin to 21 points with 20 minutes left.
The Dragons were inaccurate in crunch time and the Ranges punished, kicking a transition goal to extend the margin out to 27 points.
A third Rousakis goal midway through the fourth brought the margin back to 20 points, however, inaccuracy in front of goal stopped any chance of a last quarter comeback.
The Ranges ran out 25 point winners, 9.12.66 to 13.13.91 at Trevor Barker Oval.
The Dragons look to bounce back Friday night when they take on the Dandenong Stingrays under lights at Shepley Oval.
Goals: Rousakis 3, A. McLennan 2, Brown, Hempel, Birks, O'Leary
BEST: Clarke, Benton, E. Williams, Rousakis, A. McLennan