By David Nagel
Tooradin-Dalmore has stepped out of the shadows and into the spotlight of the 2022 premiership race after steamrolling the pre-eminent team in West Gippsland football by 74 points on Saturday.
Expectation will be a common companion for Lachie Gillespie and his team after the Seagulls delivered a 15.14.104 to 3.12.30 hammer-blow to reigning champions and minor premiers Phillip Island.
The execution of the victory was sharp, swift and efficient with the still-undefeated Gulls completely dominating the Bulldogs from the opening bounce.
The Gulls were electric in the opening quarter, with Stewie Scanlon kicking three of his eight goals in a brilliant first term display, while Piva Wright had the better of Cam Pedersen in the ruck.
The Gulls also set up expertly behind the football.
The Sherrin lived in the Gulls forward line and if not for some inaccuracy in front of goal their 27-point buffer at the first break could have been greater.
A five goal to one second term saw the margin blow out to 51 points at the main break and the highly-anticipated contest was effectively over.
Gillespie was thrilled with his side’s performance and the level of support from outside the team as well.
“It was clearly one of the better performances that I’ve been involved with in my time at the club…it was great,” Gillespie said.
“The players were terrific, but the people I’m happy for are our community.
“It’s great to have the netballers, the kids, the families, the parents, all in the rooms after the game and enjoying a win like that.
“And it’s such a great win because of the quality of the opposition…they’re a quality football team and have been for many years.
“The boys were really impressive around the contest and we won our own footy, which is always good, and everything went our way from there.
“Phillip Island had its one bad day in probably 50-odd games and we had a good one…it was one of those days where everything goes your way.”
Scanlon was magnificent in the first quarter with his party tricks including one-handed juggling marks and crumbing goals for fun.
Such was his dominance up forward he could realistically have had five on the board at quarter time.
“Stewie was great, but the best thing about him is he understands he is just one cog in the machine,” Gillespie said.
“He benefited from some great pressure up the ground, and from our backline, but he actually said to me after the game that he had a good game…but it might be someone else’s turn next time around.
“He’s a great leader from that stand point. He understands that for us to be successful we can’t have one bloke doing it every week.
“Jules (Julian Suarez), Jimmy (Trezise), Buts (Brad Butler) or Blake (Grewar)…that’s the nice part that we can share it around a bit up forward.”
Gillespie also understands that expectation will be high after Saturday’s performance with the Gulls chasing an elusive first senior premiership in 25 years.
“We’re a club that’s coming from some pretty hard times so I think we just enjoy it,” he said.
“A win like that doesn’t happen that often so just enjoy it.
“In coaching speak; it’s just four points, but to defeat a team we haven’t defeated before is a pretty positive step forward.
“The expectation will never be greater than what we put on ourselves, we need to stick to our formula and play a Tooradin brand of footy and we’ll be thereabouts in most games.
“This is where we’ve wanted to be a long time but, again, it doesn’t mean much if we lose next week so the focus now is on Nar Nar Goon, a team playing good footy that has only lost one game.”
Gillespie is excited by the upcoming challenge.
“They’re just a bloody good side,” he said of the Goon.
“They’re well coached, they win their own footy, they’re pretty strong right across the ground and they’ve got a great forward line that can kick goals quickly…all of those things make them a formidable opponent.
“They also play their home ground well and beat us last time we met so we’ll need to play our best footy to get over the top of them on the weekend.”
Phillip Island host Bunyip in the Battle of the Bulldogs at Cowes.
The surprise result of round nine took place at the Bass Recreation Reserve where Kilcunda-Bass scored an emphatic 13.12.90 to 7.6.48 victory over Bunyip.
And nine was certainly a number with influence on the day, with star forward Taylor Gibson booting nine goals and the Panthers producing a stunning nine-goal second-quarter performance.
“We nailed our forward entries and everything seemed to work…we had a bit of luck…but Taylor Gibson is what happened in the first 15 minutes of the second quarter,” said Panthers’ coach Lee Rowe.
“He kicked six goals for the quarter, he marked everything and his ground-level work was sensational.
“Our delivery to him was fantastic and when he didn’t get it we kept it in there so we gave ourselves a chance to score.”
The Panthers lead up form looked shaky to say the least, with defeats of 97, 110 and 92 points over their last three weeks of footy.
“We’ve lost by significant margins but I deliberately as a coach haven’t been protecting scores,” Rowe said.
“We need to try and see what works for us and if it doesn’t work we tinker with it.
“At this stage, with this group, I’m not going to throw one or two behind the ball to make things look respectable, we need to tough it out and that’s what we’ve been doing it.”
The Panthers now have the chance to build on Saturday’s surprise victory with games against Korumburra-Bena, Garfield and Dalyston ahead of the league-wide bye on July 2.
“We threw Bunyip into that mix and thought why not challenge ourselves to see if our footy stacks up against a middle-of-the-road side and it did on the weekend,” Rowe said.
“Obviously we identified that run of matches as our final series, and now we feel like we’ve taken a scalp we move forward and hopefully learn how to win.”
Gibson was the standout for the Panthers, while Cam McKenzie started with a tagging role on will Papley and Dale Gawley and Nathan Foote continued their impressive form through the midfield.
Fifth-placed Warragul Industrials has built a two-game buffer over itself and a chasing pack after surviving a real arm-wrestle against an improving Kooweerup at Western Park.
The Dusties trailed at half time, and then led by eight points at the final break, before finally prevailing 11.11.77 to 10.7.67.
The Dusties are making an art-form of winning tight matches with victories now over Bunyip (11 points) and Kooweerup (10 points), while last week they went bonkers against Dalyston (36 points) after leading by just three points at the final change.
Former Seaford superstar Kane Taylor celebrated his 300th game of senior footy with four goals, while Jason Wells kept the demons in the hunt with a sublime six-goal performance.
Koowee coach Rhys Nisbet will be ruing this one…as his Demons would have sat inside the top-six with victory.
Koowee host Cora Lynn this week in a make-or-break game for both clubs, while the Dusties head to Inverloch for a fourth v fifth battle against the Sea Eagles.
The other three games this week were relatively one sided.
League-leading goal-kicker Dermott Yawney took his season tally to 39 majors with an eight-goal performance in Nar Nar Goon’s 24.15.159 to 5.5.35 victory over Korumburra-Bena.
The Goon was solid early, leading by 27 points at half time, but turned on the magic in the second half with 16 goals to one.
Yawney received great support from livewire Mitch Homfray, who booted five, while Trent Armour, Sam Blackwood, JJ Peni and Jake Smith continued their fine recent form.
Regulars Nick Besley, Josh Hargreaves and Zach Walker were best for the Giants.
The Goon host ladder-leaders Tooradin this week, while the Giants will fancy their chances against rivals Kilcunda-Bass.
Cora Lynn put an early stamp on its game against Dalyston with a seven-goal first term propelling the Cobras to an 18.8.116 to 2.7.19 triumph.
The Cobras led by 48 points at the first break, keeping the Magpies scoreless, before extending their lead at each change.
Nathan Gardiner continued his charge up the goal-kicking leaderboard with five, while four to Cory Machaya and three to Lynden Banting were other highlights of the day.
Classy lefty Mason Storr kicked the Magpies only two goals for the game.
Cora Lynn, coming off a four-game winning streak, will be at Kooweerup this week, while the Magpies host Garfield in a crucial battle in the bottom rungs of the ladder.
And Garfield premiership coach Ben Soumilas has walked away from his old club with four points safely tucked away in his back pocket after Inverloch-Kongwak’s 14.12.96 to 4.5.29 victory at Beswick Street.
The Sea Eagles burst out of the blocks, leading by 30 at the first change, before the Stars bounced back by winning the second quarter.
The Sea Eagles class told in the end with Ethan Park, Shen Hawking and Michael Eales doing enough to get across the line.
Toby Mahoney returned with a three-goal performance…a total matched by Tristan Van Driel.
Zac Soutar, Jake Thomas and Joel Batson were best for the Stars, who won’t be totally disappointed with an 11-goal defeat at the hands of a serious contender.
The sea eagles host the Dusties this week, while the Stars will be eyeing off their first win of the season against Dalyston on the road,