Reigning champion Phillip Island has taken a huge step towards a top-two position and a coveted double-chance in this year’s finals series after a hard-fought 13-point win over a brave Nar Nar Goon on Saturday.
The Bulldogs – in second place – are now a game and percentage clear of third-place Inverloch-Kongwak, who succumbed to the might and power of ladder leaders Tooradin-Dalmore on the weekend.
The Bulldogs were forced to play catch-up early, after the Goon started well and threatened a repeat of its five-point win over the Doggies in their own kennel last year.
The Goon were missing the leagues’ number-one goal-kicker Dermott Yawney through illness, but had no trouble piercing the big sticks in the opening exchanges.
Cooper Pursell kicked the first goal of the match after receiving a free kick for in the back, before Trent Noy converted another to get the visitors off to a flyer.
And the home side looked in all sorts of bother when reigning league best and fairest winner Cam Pedersen slipped when kicking across goal, with the ball falling into the arms of Matt Homfray who kicked the first of his four goals for the afternoon.
But the Bulldogs regained their composure, with a goal to Eli Richards a much-needed settler.
Brendan Kimber then got on the end of a Zach Wagner forward entry, and duly converted, to cut the margin back to a straight kick at quarter time.
The Doggies almost shot themselves in the foot in the second term, kicking 3.7 to 2.1, but despite their inaccuracy took a six-point lead to the main break.
The Goon cut the deficit to five points at the final change of ends before the Doggies kicked the only goal of the last quarter to sneak home with victory.
Richards and Jack Taylor did well to kick two goals each in the treacherous conditions for forwards, while Jesse and Jordy Patullo were joined by Levi Robinson and Harry O’Brien on the best players’ list for the winners.
Homfray did an outstanding job as Yawney’s replacement for the Goon, being the dominant forward on the ground, nailing four, and almost dragging his team across the line.
Trent Armour did what Trent Armour does best, gathering possessions for fun through the midfield, while Brent Hughes, Brendan Hermann and Eamon Trigg, who battled strongly in the ruck, produced terrific four-quarter performances.
The Goon, fourth, hosts fifth-placed Warragul Industrials in another belter this week, while the Doggies should consolidate second place on a short little trip to Dalyston.
The remainder of round 14 games were relatively one sided affairs.
The standout individual performance of the round came courtesy of Kooweerup full-forward Jason Wells who booted nine goals in the Demons 18.15.123 to 7.5.47 victory over Garfield at Beswick Street.
Wells now leads the competition with 55 goals for the season with Saturday’s fullish bag following four previous hauls of six and two bags of five.
The Demons were consistent across the four quarters, which will please coach Rhys Nisbet as he looks to finish off the season with some real momentum.
The Demons should make it three-on-the-trot against Korumburra-Bena this week, before a challenging run home that consists of Warragul Industrials, Cora Lynn and Tooradin-Dalmore.
The Demons are good enough to challenge the Dusties and Cobras on their day…and should be eyeing off one of those two as a big prize coming home.
Luke McMaster added three goals for the Demons, while big-bodied mid Cosi Anagnostou relished the tricky conditions.
Jahmain Harrison booted two for the Stars, who had Zac Soutar once again in great touch around the ground.
Cora Lynn has bounced back well from last week’s heavy loss to Phillip Island to score a 67-point win over Kilcunda-Bass.
The Cobras opened the turbo-chargers in the second term, kicking 5.8 to 0.0 with the wind to push the Panthers’ challenge to one side.
The Cobras lead up to finals will increase in difficulty as the weeks roll on, with Garfield, Dalyston, Kooweerup and Warragul Industrials over the next month of footy.
Nathan Gardiner was rock-solid for the Cobras, booting four, while three to Gus Da Costa, and two to Cory Machaya, proved too much for the Panthers to handle.
Big Billy Thomas was also terrific in the ruck, with Chris Johnson and Jaxon Briggs excelling through the midfield.
Nathan Foote and Dale Gawley continued their absolutely outstanding seasons for the Panthers, who host Inverloch this week.
Bunyip’s expected rollercoaster finish to the home-and-away season has kicked off in style with the Bulldogs banking an 81-point victory over Korumburra-Bena.
The Bulldogs will struggle against Tooradin and Phillip Island, but should bank wins against Kilcunda-Bass and Dalyston to finish the season on eight wins.
Expectations were high at Bunyip leading in, but considering where they’ve come from…eight wins is a definite pass mark.
Matt Ross stole the show, slotting four majors for the Doggies, while low-to-the-ground players like Dylan Quirk and Chris Thuring enjoyed the tough conditions for marking.
Matt Lello enjoyed his foray forward, booting two goals for the Giants.
And Warragul Industrials has kicked the sweep, scoring an impressive 20.18.138 to 7.3.45 win over Dalyston.
The Dusties book-ended the game with six goals in the first and last quarters to make it three wins on the trot.
The Dusties shared the load magnificently, with Mason McGarrity and Travis Ogden kicking four each, and Jackson Mockett 3, while Todd Beck, super-star Shane Brewster, Anthony Bruhn and Kyle Staples trouble the goalies on two occasions.
The trusty left foot of Mason Storr was once again provided the highlight for the Magpies with three goals.
The Dusties now face a huge one at the Goon, where they won last year, while the Magpies host Phillip Island.