In a league of their own

Narre Warren was all over Woori Yallock on Saturday. 282221 Picture: TYLER LEWIS

By Tyler Lewis

Will a real contender please stand up!

It was meant to be a test for Narre Warren on Saturday, a close game of football to defer the thought of the Magpies cantering by every side this season.

But instead, it was yet another demolition of a falsely hopeful contender.

A close contest appeared to be on the cards at the first change, as less than a kick separated the two sides.

The Tigers loose man in defence was on the agenda at the Pies’ quarter-time address, with a sense of confidence that the contingency plan would crack the game right open.

The Magpies problem was soon met with a solution, which then led to the Tigers conceding nine goals to two across the second and third terms.

And while the game opened up in the final stanza, ultimately allowing Woori Yallock to add five goals, the Pies also converted eight, demonstrating their flare on the outside to complement the grunt on the inside.

The Pies eventually cantered to victory over the fancied Tigers, handing the visitors a 19.16 (130) to 7.12 (54) drubbing.

In last week’s victory, Narre Warren forwards Jake Richardson and Will Howe filled their boots, but this week it was Riley Siwes (five goals) and Michael Milivojevic (four goals) that cashed in.

While a scary proposition for opposition clubs this year, the forward spread is simultaneously pleasing for Pies coach Shane Dwyer.

“We were really happy with that,” he said, about the lack of reliance on Richardson and Howe.

“I think they only kicked two between them, they still competed really well, I think Richo (Jake Richardson) still had eight or nine marks.

“For us to win so well without them having a massive impact was pretty pleasing.

“Micky Milo (Milivojevic) has been playing everywhere this year. We settled him down forward this week, he kicked five and Siwy (Riley Siwes) has been creative all year as well.

“It’s good we have other options, not putting all our eggs in two baskets.”

At the other end of the ground, the Pies kept the Tigers to just seven goals and – more specifically – maintained gun forward Zach Monkhorst to a solitary major for the afternoon.

Joel Zietsman had the job on Monkhorst and his performance has earned the highest of praise from Dwyer.

“I thought Zietsman did really well (on Monkhorst)… I think he is the best backman in the comp,” he said.

“He has been good for us, he is only a pup too, and he was always going to play on Monkhorst if he played.

“A couple of new guys floated through there a bit on the weekend. (Hayden) Johnson has only played a few senior games and Dec Brown has only come into it this year.

“But Zietsman in particular has been fantastic.”

The Magpies – who currently sit rightfully atop of the Outer East ladder – have now kicked over 100 points in all five outings, have conceded an average of just 60 points and hold an average winning margin of 67 points.

In other results across the Premier Division; Mt Evelyn punished the wayward kicking of Upwey Tecoma 21.3 (129) to 9.21 (75); Wandin recorded a big win over Monbulk 12.7 (79) to 8.11 (59) and after a turbulent fortnight, Officer went down to Olinda Ferny Creek 17.20 (122) to 10.6 (66).

In Division 1, Berwick Springs coach Rodney Benstead has walked away from its draw with Gembrook Cockatoo with a beaming smile.

Despite coughing up a fabulous 50-7 quarter-time lead, Benstead is thrilled that his side has what it takes to compete – and at times beat – the best sides in the competition.

“I must say we’re a young list and at the end of the day we’re improving each week,” he said.

“We lost our first three games and I said we weren’t far off it, and I think we have turned the corner – two wins and a draw – we come into a really big game this week after taking the learnings out of Saturday.

“I think there was something there, we were disappointed we didn’t win, but when you’re on a learning journey you can take a fair bit out of it.

“We’re playing good footy and the other thing is that our best is really good; I mean we kicked 3.4 to Seville’s nothing in a quarter, to kick eight goals in a quarter is pretty exciting and sets the bar of where we can play.”

While he was extremely chuffed with his side, Benstead admittedly revealed his players were flat immediately after the game.

“I think the players were pretty disappointed, they realised they had let an opportunity slip,” he said.

“But I guess as a coach I want to look at the bigger picture and say we can really learn and grow from today, we can keep getting better, so my message was pretty positive and optimistic, but they were pretty flat.

“I think both teams are, I think everyone says the same thing, you’re just not sure how to feel after a draw are you?”

The Titans led by 43 at quarter time, 13 points at the main break and 23 points at three quarter time, but ultimately finished neck and neck with Gembrook Cockatoo 12.11 (83) apiece.

The draw leaves Berwick Springs just two points behind Healesville in fourth.

Although the Titans and Brookers played out a heart-stopper, the remaining games in Division 1 were hardly as entertaining.

Emerald destroyed Belgrave 18.18 (126) to 4.4 (28), while Seville torpedoed Healesville 29.16 (190) to 6.6 (42).

Next round will be highlighted by Healesvile travelling to Berwick Springs, with the winner set push ahead in the race for fourth position on the ladder.