By Nick Creely
OUTER EAST FOOTBALL
PREMIER AND DIVISION 1 REVIEW – ROUND 6
Olinda Ferny Creek may not have claimed the four-points, but showed the first signs of turning the corner in 2019, pushing Beaconsfield to the brink on the road on Saturday.
Coming into the clash between two the sides – who both have had some struggles so far in the Outer East Premier Division – the Eagles were expected to take care of business and continue building on its percentage.
In the past three weeks, the Eagles had scored 127, 48 and 133, and looked frightening with their unpredictability through the forward line and stinginess in the back half.
But the Bloods fought, and fought, and fought.
In the early stages, the visitors certainly looked like they had done their homework, shutting off the usually venomous Beaconsfield run to take in a narrow five-point lead into quarter time courtesy of the opening two majors to the impressive Lachlan Taylor.
Despite not wavering in intensity, eventually Leigh McQuillen’s side began to assert themselves, coming back from a 12-point deficit early in the third to reclaiming the lead after slamming on four-quick goals to open up a 17-point advantage.
Eventually, the class and fitness on the vast surrounds proved a stumbling block, with best afield Sean Dwyer putting the game to bed with a major early in the last.
Adding a bit of a gap at the final siren, the Eagles put the foot down to add another couple of goals by the final siren, while the Bloods could just add a single point to their three quarter time tally.
Down at Casey Fields, Berwick just did what they needed to do to claim the four-points against arch-rivals, Cranbourne, 9.15 (69) to 5.11 (41).
The Eagles managed to take in a one-point lead at half-time, but Rhys Nisbet’s side stamped its authority in the third like class sides do.
Completely shutting the home side down, the Wickers slammed on five unanswered goals to turn their sluggish first half around, with Tim Gunn (three goals) particularly dangerous in attack in a reminder of his ability to quickly turn a game.
The Wickers ran out 28-point winners in a slow last quarter, with Luke Jellyman-Turner, James Magner and Dylan Morris all important, while Bailey Buntine showed some more exciting signs with a great showing for the home team.
In the remaining matches across Premier, Wandin and Upwey Tecoma combined for 41 goals down at the Kennel, with the Dogs prevailing 26.21 (177) to 15.11 (101). The returning Daniel Gorringe and Justin Van Unen each snared six majors for the home side. Woori Yallock also banked some percentage with a comfortable win against Healesville, 18.11 (119) to 7.5 (47).
In Division 1, Officer is now well and truly back in town after securing its third straight victory, this time against a gallant Mount Evelyn at Starling Road on Saturday, 12.12 (84) to 7.13 (55).
It’s a win that now lifts them comfortably into fourth spot with a 3-3 record, but for Kangaroos coach Doug Koop – while pleased that the result went his side’s way – said that the ‘unfair’ pre-season expectation of his team as premiership favourites was a stark contrast to exactly where his group is at.
“It was our best four quarter effort of the year, so it’s a good time now to be playing good footy,” he said.
“But (last year) we couldn’t even beat a side above us, and we’ve had no success in the last 10 years, and all of a sudden we’re premiership favourites – these blokes just don’t know how to win.
“We’ve got to learn how to win consistently, and win in different ways – granted, with all the media stuff, the blokes probably assumed it was going to just happen.
“Playing finals last year, and coming into a new competition this year, and not understanding what winning was about is never going to be a good combination.”
On Saturday, the Kangaroos took another step forward in what was their most consistent performance of the year, shaking off the Rovers, who stuck with the home side for the best part of the three quarters.
The visitors looked like they could inflict the Kangaroos with an upset during stages of the third term after starting the second-half well, but some maturity shown by their leaders ensured they could find enough energy and momentum to wrestle back the lead with a quarter to play.
In particular, young gun Tyler Clark enjoyed a stellar quarter, kicking the ball with precision and running hard to stamp his authority on the contest.
It was a plain and simple message at the huddle as Koop prepared to address his side for the last time, “We’ve done all the hard work, and we now need to finish it off.”
And finish it off they did, halting the Rovers who surged early with some brilliant defensive acts from Stephen Heppel and James Waldon, and some class coming through the middle from Tyler Clark, veteran Ben Tivendale and lion-hearted ruckman Sean Roach – who floated around the ground to have a big say on proceedings before the forward line went to work and secured the victory.
Koop said the win added plenty of confidence in the short-term, and reiterated that it was another great learning curve as they continue to build.
“It was definitely a stumbling block early (this year), but we’ve worked through a few issues, and we like to think we take a good victory on the weekend, but some good pointers,” he said.
“We were 14 points up at three quarter time, and the message was that good sides simply win these games on their home deck, and we should have won by more but we kicked poorly.
“But we’re still learning, and that gives us a lot of confidence over the next month hopefully.”
With a Queens Birthday split round meaning that the Kangaroos won’t take to the field until 15 June against Emerald, Koop said it was an important time to work hard at training in the processes that will ensure success.
“We only get them for a limited time (at training throughout the week), and there’s not enough time to do the work you need to do,” he said.
“I’m not a massive fan of a lot of meetings, I think they can be overrated, but we need to understand there’s a process, and if you follow that, success and good habits can come from it.”
Doveton, meanwhile, returned to some of its best form with a grinding win against Emerald in Division 1 under lights at home, 15.14 (104) to 11.11 (77).
For the best part of three quarters, the Doves returned to its electric form, dominating proceedings but not quite putting the game to bed with a 5.8 to 3.4 first half.
With recruit James Gascard up and about in his best game for the Doves with four goals, the home side played arguably its best quarter of the season, kicking seven third quarter goals to open up a massive 40-point gap to seal the game despite the Bombers running out the game strongly.
Gascard, along with Jake Basa and Matthew Boyd, had a massive say on proceedings, with Boyd in particular continuing on his regular dose of leather poisoning, while for the Bombers, Jake Pedder slotted another four while Josh Rich continued his impressive vein of form.
In other games, Pakenham had to work relatively hard to shake off Belgrave on the road, despite having an extraordinary amount of scoring shots, 17.21 (123) to 14.6 (90), while Monbulk continued its impressive charge with another solid win, this time against Warburton Millgrove on the road, 14.18 (102) to 5.5 (35).