By David Nagel
An exciting and energetic Bunyip continues to impress in the early stages of the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition (WGFNC) after the Bulldogs handed Kooweerup a 66-point defeat at Denhams Road on Saturday.
Bulldogs coach Tim McGibney will try and play it down – and insist defence is winning games – but the eyes don’t lie and the Doggies are playing a far more attractive brand of football this season.
Sure, the signature is built on team defence…McGibney wouldn’t have it any other way…but having class conveyances that can hurt an opposition in the blink of an eye certainly helps the cause.
Will Papley and Dan Helmore are two such players this year.
Papley played just three games for the Bulldogs last year, while plying his trade with Gippsland Power, while Helmore kicked 17 goals in nine games for Garfield.
They’re similar types, who play a mid/forward role, who both catch the eye with their positive energy and a high-level of class.
The 19-year-old Papley, in particular, set the Bulldogs on the path to victory on Saturday with the opening goal of the game and two highlight finishes in the last.
He ran untouched away from a stoppage at the five-minute mark of the first quarter to kick the Doggies off on the right foot.
Xavier Kinder then kicked a left-foot ripper from the forward pocket, and when Ash Allen received a free-kick in front of goal the Bulldogs were three goals in front after 14 minutes of play.
The Demons did settle, kicking three of the next five goals, all from the boot of Nathan Voss, who kicked his third at the three-minute mark of the third quarter to cut the margin back to a very gettable 15 points.
But the Bulldogs did look the better team and when Papley struck again, this time marking from a centre clearance from Nathan Allen…the visitors had answered immediately.
Kinder then pounced on some unselfish work from Blake Cann and Jason Williams, and when Ash Allen added two more in two minutes, the Doggies had the game sewn up with a 38-point lead at the 11-minute mark of the third term.
Helmore and Papley looked classy, but the grunt through the middle of the ground supplied by ruckman Duncan Proud and uncomplicated types like Nathan Allen and Jeb McLeod was equally as important to the cause.
The Cann boys, Blake and Dylan, were fantastic on opposite wings, while the pressure applied by Kinder and Williams, up forward, certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
The Doggies are playing for each other and enjoying each other’s success…and that only comes from a united outfit that is consistently on the same page.
The Bulldogs led by 41 points at the final break and upped the ante in the last term.
It took eight minutes for Alex McMillan to snap one through from congestion, but the Doggies then made it seven goals for the quarter in just 20 minutes of play.
Papley’s two last-quarter goals were brilliant…first making Mitch Cammarano pay for a costly turnover and then slamming one home on the run from the 50-metre mark.
McGibney once again won’t agree…but team defence doesn’t kick goals like that!
Helmore also showed his class, kicking a long goal after being afforded too much space at the contest, while Williams was rewarded for some unselfish play in the forward line with two of his own in the last.
And Matt Ross capped things off at the 28-minute mark of the last quarter, taking a spectacular mark and calmly converting through the big sticks.
Papley finished with four, Ash Allen three, and Williams and Kinder two each for the Bulldogs, while defender Aaron Paxton drifted forward for a goal amid a solid performance across half back, where Ryan Quirk and Chris Thuring also did their thing.
Matt Voss, Mitch Cammarano and Bailey Galante were solid for the Demons through the midfield, while four goals to Nathan Voss was the only positive up forward.
The Demons are still a fair way off the pace and will be disappointed they fluffed their lines on centre stage against Nar Nar Goon and Bunyip over the last fortnight.
But both of those teams will play finals this year, while the Demons have a realistic target to chase, that holding the title of being one of the best two teams outside of finals.
They won’t admit it…but at the start of this season…they would have taken that.
The Demons can stake that claim over the next month of footy with winnable games against Kilcunda-Bass, Garfield and Korumburra-Bena interspersed with a round-six clash against Phillip Island.
And we’ll also learn a lot more about Bunyip over the next fortnight, with games against fellow-finals contenders Warragul Industrials (home) and Inverloch-Kongwak (away).
278752_17: Rock solid. Dan Helmore takes a strong grab for Bunyip against the Demons. 278752 – Pakenham Gazette