By David Nagel
Tooradin-Dalmore banked something far more important than four premiership points with its commanding 32-point victory over Inverloch-Kongwak at the Inverloch Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
The Seagulls not only extended their undefeated winning streak to 14, but deposited serious doubt into the mind of one of their biggest challengers for this year’s crown.
Inverloch will be justifiably proud of keeping the Seagulls to their lowest score of the season, but the Sea Eagles did so at the expense of their own attacking flare moving forward.
Blustery conditions certainly made scoring difficult, but the Sea Eagles looked bereft of ideas as they succumbed, 10.10.70 to 5.8.38, to this year’s premiership favourites.
It was also Inverloch’s lowest score for the season, easily eclipsing the 52 points it scored against the Seagulls in a 37-point round-seven defeat.
A strong breeze swept across the ground on the weekend, blowing from the outer wing to the netball-court forward pocket.
Tooradin had the better of the first 15 minutes of play, and if not for some great defensive work from the likes of Hayden Lindsay, who had the job on Stewie Scanlon, and Tom Hams, the home side could have been in some serious early trouble.
The Seagulls set up expertly behind the football, with Brad Lenders, Jordy Kelly, Luke McKenna, Adam Galea, Lewis Hill and Adam Oxley making forward thrusts a rare commodity for the home side.
Brady Egan was the only Seagull to find his range in the first quarter, first judging the wind perfectly from a set shot after three minutes of play, and then dribbling one through on his left foot at the 18-minute mark of the term.
Egan’s second goal came after Oscar Toussaint had put the Sea Eagles first score on the board, a point, with crisp play from the resultant kick-in ending in Egan’s hands.
Inverloch hit back when Toby Mahoney kicked his 200th goal for the club at the 26-minute mark of the first quarter, cutting the Seagulls margin back to nine points at quarter time.
The second quarter began with Tooradin showing a real ferocity with its tackling, with Liam Adams denying Oscar Toussaint an early shot at goal.
Inverloch did look more at home in the second term, although neither side could get its running game going due to the blustery conditions and the strong amount of pressure being applied.
Egan continued to have a presence in the second quarter, using quick hands to set up Blake Grewar for a great running goal at the eight-minute mark, and then marking from the next centre clearance.
Mahoney then answered four minutes later, after a loose Galea tackle set up an easy shot from the top of the goal square.
The resilient Sea Eagles had cut the margin back to a more than manageable eight points, but the visitors had the final significant say of the first half.
A broken tackle on James Trezise saw the Seagulls earn a numerical advantage in their front half, with Brent Macaffer found loose, directly in front, 30 metres out.
A late miss from Trezise saw the Seagulls take a 15-point – 4.7 to 2.4 – advantage to the major interval.
Hill was showing terrific dash and great skill for the Seagulls across half back, while Oxley’s marking and reading of the play was a key repellent for the home side to overcome.
Todd Mackie and Lewis Rankin were superb in the second quarter for the Sea Eagles in defence, although Trezise’s left foot saw him wrong foot the Sea Eagles defenders for that last shot at goal before half time.
The Seagulls appeared to be by far the better team…but we still had a game on our hands as the players returned from the major interval.
Would Inverloch release the shackles, and try to take the game on, or would it be content to make the second half a scrappy affair like the first?
It took just seconds to find out the answer.
Mackie, who played a terrific game in defence, took an uncontested mark just seconds into the third quarter…at pure centre-half-back.
With options aplenty, he chose to drive the ball to the dead side of the ground where 80-percent of the play had taken place in the first half.
It wasn’t the attacking option…and the Seagulls pounced!
Within four minutes, the four points were heading back down the highway after Scanlon expertly allowed for the left to right breeze, Trezise once again dummied onto his left foot, before Macaffer set the spinnaker with the breeze at his back to launch one from outside 50.
The Seagulls had bagged three goals in a telling five minutes of play to open the second half.
The score was 49-16 and the game was effectively over!
Egan didn’t find the scoreboard in the third term, but had some tremendous passages of play across half forward.
Mitch Hewitson provided the one highlight for the home side in the third term, with a right-foot snap at the 21-minute mark that sparked Inverloch into action.
The Sea Eagles had their best seven minutes of the contest, moving the ball on quickly and challenging the Seagulls defence.
The Gulls led by 28 points at the final break.
Any hope of a home-team revival was quickly snuffed out when Liam Adams kicked the Gulls out to a 34-point lead after 20 seconds of play.
The Eagles answered nicely, through goals to Taite Cumming and Tristan Van Driel, but Scanlon then marked in the goal square to kick the sealer at the 14-minute mark of the final term.
The Gulls were 28 points up, at the 16-minute mark, when the youthful enthusiasm of Hill went to new levels.
With the game over, the Gulls young defender went on the hunt, gunning down Joe Soumilas with a brilliant running tackle that reeked of determination.
Piva Wright put the final stamp on proceedings, kicking a late goal out of the ruck to give the Gulls a five-goal victory.
Egan, Scanlon and Macaffer shared the load for the Seagulls, kicking two each, while the aerial strength of Julian Suarez, the brute force of Wright, and the running capacity of Trezise, Hill and Johnny Duff, caused the home side some headaches throughout the course of the afternoon.
Inverloch never looked like winning, but somehow found a way to stay in the contest…and that was its biggest positive.
They weren’t blown away, and the genius of Ben Soumilas will no doubt be dissecting each moment and coming up with a plan to nullify…no challenge…the Gulls the next time they meet in finals.
Mahoney finished with two for the Eagles, while the efforts of Rankin, Mackie, Hams and Thomas Wyatt were admirable.
INVERLOCH-KONGWAK 1.1 2.4 3.5 5.8(38)
TOORADIN-DALMORE 2.4 4.7 7.9 10.10(70)
Inverloch-Kongwak Goals: Toby Mahoney 2, Mitch Hewitson, Taite Cumming, Tristan Van Driel. Best: Lewis Rankin, Marcus Toussaint, Joe Soumilas, Oscar Toussaint, Corey Casey, Thomas Wyatt.