By Nick Creely
OUTER EAST FOOTBALL
PREMIER DIVISION REVIEW – ROUND 7
Narre Warren is playing nowhere near its best football, but continues to hold sway at the top of the Premier ladder by shaking off every challenge – this time a brave Cranbourne unit at home on Saturday, 14.21 (105) to 8.8 (56).
But that’s what the Magpies will be so pleased with at the moment – they are continuing to find ways to win, searching for their right mix while also getting the opportunity to blood youngsters and find players to move them forward as a football club.
Premierships are not won in June, but the build up towards finals and cementing a brand of sustainable football is what the home and away season is all about. That’s exactly what the start of the Magpies’ season has been all about.
The Magpies set the win up with a dominant first half, but could have put an insurmountable gap on the Eagles had it not been for some inaccurate kicking at goal, scoring 5.15 to 2.3 – including a 13-behind second term to take in a five goal lead at the major break.
As they have when put under the pump all season, the Eagles did respond with a four-goal third term, but were outgunned by a clinical Magpie forward line, with the likes of Mitch Cox (two goals), Lachie Benson (two), Stewart Scanlon (two) and Michael Collins (two) inflicting plenty of pain on the visitors, who didn’t have any answers for their class forward of centre.
While scoring 21 behinds for the match, in a win that could have nearly tipped three figures if they kicked straight, the Maggies had winners all over the ground – but in particular in the midfield once again – with Brad Scalzo dominant as he continues to build his season, Josh Tonna providing his customary run, Nathan Foote being a force in the stoppages, while Dylan and Ryan Quirk were once again impressive.
Emerging forward Kirk Dickson provided a strong target in the absence of Corey Ellison, snagging two majors for the visitors, while Shaun Marusic played his best game of the season.
The Magpies’ biggest challenger for top spot at this stage, Berwick, also enjoyed another strong weekend, building on its percentage with a drubbing of a youthful Olinda Ferny Creek at Edwin Flack, 20.14 (134) to 3.8 (26).
The Bloods had plenty of inexperience in its line-up, and were taught a valuable lesson from a side that is at the top of its game.
Rhys Nisbet’s side were never headed as it strolled to a 20-point quarter time lead, and quickly turned that advantage to 69 at the main break after holding the visitors goalless in the first half.
The Bloods were unable to snag a major into the final term and went on to kick a further two more, but the Wickers kept the foot down to deliver in another impressive four-quarter performance, one that sees them just percentage from top-spot.
Perennial goal machine Harry Money slotted another five to take his tally to 32 for the season, while Madi Andrews and Lucas Jellyman-Turner ran amok through the midfield for the Wickers.
Beaconsfield was another south-east side to fill its boots on the weekend, cementing itself inside the top five with a drubbing over the winless Healesville, 26.19 (175) to 5.7 (37).
Leigh McQuillen’s side was in an ominous mood from the outset of its first trip up to Healesville, with a whopping 45 scoring shots in a reminder of just how many attacking options they have.
The Eagles got off to the best possible start on the road, completely blitzing the Bloods to surge to a 59-point quarter time lead.
With Kyle O’Sullivan (six goals), Damien Johnston (four), Jamie Plumridge (four) and returning big man Scott Meyer (three) making the most of their opportunities up forward, the Eagles gradually built a mammoth lead over the course of the match, eventually running out 138-point winners.
As he has all season, Sean Dwyer was once again arguably the best player on the ground, Riley Verbi returned from his Young Guns stint with some venom, while the defence stood up once again, with the Eagles now statistically the stingiest defence in the competition with an average of just 53.7 pointers per game, just shadowing Berwick in that key area of the game.
In the final game of the round, Woori Yallock’s dominant second-half set up a 16-point win against Upwey Tecoma, 14.16 (100) to 12.12 (84).
Upwey got off to a barnstorming six-goal first term to be leading by 19 at the first break and eventually 11 at half-time, but the visitors eventually got the game on their terms, scoring eight goals to three after half-time to win comfortably.
For the visitors – who are two games clear in third spot – Kane Thompson and Joel Adams were superb, while Joel Smith had a massive impact on the match with five-goals.