By David Nagel
The irresistible force finally comes face-to-face with the immovable object when Tooradin-Dalmore stakes its claim for the 2022 premiership when it hosts Phillip Island on Saturday.
The Gulls are the irresistible force, sitting atop the ladder with a frighteningly large percentage of 293, while the Bulldogs have been immovable as the pre-eminent team in the competition since taking home the 2018 silverware.
Both teams are undefeated and extremely confident in their own abilities and structures which make for a classic confrontation on the weekend.
Phillip Island could hardly have been more impressive against Nar Nar Goon last week, playing an explosive brand of football…particularly in the first half.
Their pressure was immense, and coach Beau Vernon was thrilled with his team’s performance…particularly their thirst for the contest.
“I thought we had a day out, everything went well for us and I don’t think Nar Nar Goon will go away from the game too despondent,” Vernon said.
“They would say they didn’t have their best day, and Phillip Island was on, but I was very pleased with how we played.
“Our pressure, and some things that we’re trying, they all looked pretty good.
“It’s just effort; it’s a really big thing for our group.
“They give their all and importantly we had an even contribution across the board.
“And it’s not often you have the situation where three teams are undefeated after seven rounds, so it was nice to play well in a big game.
“To rise to the challenge and be up and about for it was awesome.”
One player to provide a highlight moment last week was former Tooradin utility Cam Brown, whose brave act and courageous running directly set up a goal for a teammate.
“He’s been fantastic, he’s a great bloke and wants to get better and wants to improve,” Vernon said.
“We tried a few different things with him in the pre-season, and maybe he lost a bit of confidence, but over the last three weeks he’s been going from strength to strength to strength.
“His pressure, his running, his ability to hit the scoreboard and to be front and centre…they’ve all been important.
“He’s been a great get for us this year.”
Brown’s former team Tooradin could be the stumbling block for the Bulldogs this year.
The Gulls are hungry, being knocked out at the preliminary final stage in our last full season in 2019, and have recruited some cream since.
Adam Oxley, Blake Grewar and Piva Wright all wore the Seagulls’ colours last year, while the introduction of Collingwood premiership player Brent Macaffer has given the Gulls some extra steel around the contest.
While Vernon wants to win badly this week, a loss would provide opportunity to adjust with the thought of the bigger picture in mind.
“A win is really important, because it gives you the edge in the battle for top two, but we would learn from a loss as well,” Vernon said.
“We want to be the best team we can be at the end of the season.
“Either way you look at it you can find positives, but we’re going out to win this week because we love these big games and Tooradin look like they’re the yardstick at the moment.
“They’re flying along and have brought in some elite talent over the last few years.
“They’re a great side, well structured, and Lachie (Gillespie) does a great job with them as coach.
“We’re really excited by the challenge.”
This one should be a beauty, and will start at the first bounce.
Piva Wright has had a sensational year for the Gulls and his battle with back-to-back league medallist Cam Pedersen will go a long way towards deciding this contest.
Julian Suarez and Brad Butler are both capable of offering support to Wright, while Jordy Patullo is important in a similar role for the Doggies.
Pedersen (21 goals) and Patullo (20) are the Bulldogs leading goal-kickers this year…so the Seagulls tall defenders need to be on their game.
Tooradin is good…a real contender…but Phillip Island will be the only undefeated team after round nine after a 13-point victory.
In the pick of the other games, Warragul Industrials host Kooweerup in a massive game for both clubs.
These two, along with Cora Lynn and Bunyip, appear to be fighting for fifth to eighth position so any game between the four can easily be defined as an eight-pointer.
We’ll go for the Dusties by 21 points.
In other games, Cora Lynn will make it four on the bounce against Dalyston, Inverloch-Kongwak will return from Garfield with the four points in hand, while Bunyip will be too strong for Kilcunda-Bass.
And Nar Nar Goon will retain its place in the top three with a big win over Korumburra-Bena.