By David Nagel
So, what does Kilcunda-Bass have in common with Cora Lynn, Inverloch-Kongwak and Tooradin-Dalmore after surviving a classic stoush with Garfield at Beswick Street on Saturday?
The Panthers eventually prevailed 10.13.73 to 9.12.66 to join the finals bound Cobras, Sea Eagles and Seagulls as the only four teams to have won their last three games of footy.
It’s an impressive rebound from the Panthers who were coming off a six-game losing streak.
This one was an even contest throughout, with Garfield wasting opportunities in the first term to make an early impact.
The Stars kicked 1.5 to 3.1 in the first quarter to trail by eight points, a margin that extended to 13 at half time but was cut back to seven at the final break.
Jack Barnes was holding strong in the Garfield backline and showed good body strength to repel a Panthers charge early in the final quarter.
The Stars were then up and about after Jett Pickering got the first goal for the quarter from a set shot after a nice lead and mark.
Neither team could crack the opposition’s defences until the 18-minute mark of the final stanza, with Anthony Daraio kicking truly to put the Panthers ahead once again.
Key-forward Taylor Gibson then kicked another to give the Panthers a two-goal lead, before Angus Emery cut the margin back to seven.
The Panthers soaked up the clock in the dying stages, using their full allotment of time on set shots and chipping the ball cleverly to Jake Weightman.
The siren then sounded, just inside 30 minutes, to give the Panthers a hard-fought victory.
Gibson would end the day with three goals for the winners, while Nathan Foote also kicked three in a clear best-on-ground display through the midfield.
Cam McKenzie continued his fine form of late, while Tom West and Chris McKay were others to lift when the game was on the line.
Garfield remains winless, but what an impressive performance by the Stars who are certainly showing a never-give-up attitude.
They’ve been close, now losing two games by four and seven points, but need a win on the board to give them something to cheer about.
But the options are thinning out, with games against Kooweerup (R14), Dalyston (R17) and a return-bout against the Panthers in round 18 their only realistic chances of success.
If Zac Soutar, Lachie Sauze and Jack Tenace-Greenall continue their form from Saturday…they’re most definitely a chance of singing the club song before the end of the season.
Bunyip coach Tim McGibney will be breathing a deep sigh of relief after his Bulldogs broke a three-game losing streak against Dalyston on Saturday.
With no Shaun Burgoyne to contend with, the Bulldogs made an early statement with a 6.3 to 1.0 opening term to set up their 17.6.108 to 9.3.57 victory.
While the end result looks impressive enough, the game was still up for grabs at three-quarter time after the Magpies kicked five goals in the third quarter to cut the margin back to 24 points.
Coming off three-consecutive losses, and being outscored in the previous two quarters of football…the Bulldogs had a decision to make.
It was also the 150th senior game for skipper Jeb McLeod.
And thankfully they decided to stand up, kicking 5.3 to 1.0 in the final term to race away with a confidence-building win.
Ash Allen, Dylan Gallasch and regular defender Aaron Paxton booted three each for the Bulldogs, while McLeod celebrated hard after having his typical huge influence around the ground.
Matt O’Halloran and Jye Keath kept things tidy in the key defensive posts, while Xavier Kinder and Jack Blakey were others to step up on a huge day for the club.
Dalyston did show resilience to bounce back from its horror first-quarter performance to still be in the game at the three-quarter-time break.
The leadership of Blake Carew, Brad Monson, Curtis Murfett and Mick Marotta was a crucial factor in the fightback and will hold the Magpies in good stead moving forward.
The Magpies head to Kilcunda-Bass this week for a winnable game of football, while McGibney and his Bulldogs face a season-defining trip to Cora Lynn.
A sparkling eight-goal haul from Jack Taylor has propelled Phillip Island to a massive 28.19.187 to 3.2.20 victory over Korumburra-Bena.
After an inconspicuous start to the season, the burly forward has really hit his straps in recent times and looms as a key figure in the Bulldogs hunt for three consecutive premierships.
Seven goals in round seven against Dalyston, and eight on the weekend against the Giants, show the potential danger that Taylor presents to the remainder of this year’s finals contenders.
The Bulldogs wasted no time in asserting their authority on the weekend.
A 38-point lead was quickly built to 10 goals at the main break, before the floodgates opened in the second half.
In similar fashion to what Tooradin did to Kooweerup…the Bulldogs pumped in 17 goals to one in the second half to race away with the four points.
Zak Vernon and Billy Taylor were typically dangerous for the Doggies, kicking three each, while Will Taylor-Eagles celebrated in style after kicking two goals on debut.
Max Walton joined familiar names like Cam Pedersen, Harry O’Brien and Brendan Kimber on the best players list, while Jordy Patullo was also an influential figure.
The Giants are battling right now, having not won a game since round five, and face the most arduous seven games of any club in the competition in the run home.
On the weekend, Paul Fermanis once again showed his class with two goals while experienced types like Matt Lello and Darcy Hargrave were giving their all until the final siren had sounded.
The Giants’ horror-run home begins with a visit from ladder-leaders Tooradin-Dalmore this week.
The Bulldogs face a long and testing trip to Warragul to take on the improving Dusties.
Tooradin-Dalmore has put a few things in perspective after another Stewart Scanlon masterclass led the Seagulls to a thumping 26.12.168 to 7.9.51 victory over a disappointing Kooweerup.
Coach Lachie Gillespie will hate us getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but the Gulls are an absolute lock to finish top-two now with a two-game and massive percentage break over third-placed Inverloch-Kongwak.
There’s still a lot of water to flow under the bridge in Tooradin town, but even one or two losses over the remaining seven rounds of the season won’t see the Gulls removed from a coveted top-two position.
Pencil in Saturday 27 August – the second semi-final – as the next big test to see if the Seagulls are ready to end a 25-year drought.
The Gulls started brilliantly on Saturday, leading by five goals at the first change of ends before the Demons produced their only competitive quarter for the match.
Players like Nathan Muratore, Mitch Davey and Fletcher McMillan stuck to their guns against high-class opposition to lose the second term by just five points.
But 15 goals to two after the main break undid all that hard work in an instant.
Scanlon continued his freakish form of late, kicking seven goals to add to hauls of eight and five in his previous two games.
The mid-sized forward becomes just the second player this season, alongside Cora Lynn’s Nathan Gardiner, to kick 20 goals in a three-game streak this year.
But Scanlon Street wasn’t the only way home for the Gulls on the weekend, with four goals coming via Blake Grewar Grove and Julian Suarez Court, while Jimmy Trezise Circuit and Piva Wright Parade were other avenues that provided three goals each on Saturday.
Those goal-kickers mentioned above were outstanding, while Brent Macaffer, Brad Butler and veteran defender Adam Galea produced games of the highest quality.
The Seagulls head to Korumburra-Bena this week, while the Demons will need to find something within when they host second-placed Inverloch-Kongwak.