By David Nagel
Joyous scenes erupted at Garfield’s famous home-ground at Beswick Street on Saturday after the youthful Stars secured a first win of the season against Dalyston.
The Stars did it in style, kicking five last-quarter goals to race away with a commanding 15.15.105 to 5.5.35 victory in front of a happy and raucous home crowd.
The Stars put the lessons learnt from recent 97 and 105-point defeats to good use, with coach Paul Carbis insisting those lop-side numbers camouflaged some promising signs within his group.
Carbis was thrilled to see his players finally rewarded for their hard work.
“Reward for effort is exactly what we said after the game,” Carbis said.
“People just look at the results against Cora Lynn and Inverloch, but we feel we’ve made some real strides over those last two weeks.
“We were really flat in the first half against Cora Lynn, which you get with young sides, but the boys responded well and we beat them in the second half.
“We took a lot from that performance, but then a week later we went to Inverloch and the first half was the same as Cora Lynn.
“I was worried at half time that the game would blow out, but the boys fought it out and were really competitive in the second half…they kicked four goals to two after half time.
“We looked for the positives from those performances and the challenge was to play our best football against Dalyston.
“We brought the heat with our pressure, that impacted those top teams in second halves, and the boys got rewarded for their efforts.
“It all came together and it was very pleasing…the boys played some terrific football.”
The Stars certainly did that, conceding the first two goals of the match before taking control of the contest.
The Stars led by 17 points at quarter time, building to 28 at the main break, before putting the game to bed with a three-goal-to-one third term.
The Magpies cut into the 48-point margin early in the final stanza, before the Stars settled to finish the game off in style.
“The first 10 minutes was important, and we knew if we got through that we’d be home, but they kicked the first goal and had a few scoring shots early which kept us on our toes,” Carbis said.
“But we hit our strides, kicked the answer, and it was really enjoyable to watch the way the boys went about it in the last quarter.
“It was a four-quarter effort, which we haven’t had all year, we’ve played in patches, so to finish it off and have a really solid win was fantastic.”
Out of necessity, Carbis has had to throw the magnets around this season but went with a more attacking approach against the Magpies.
Jonty Bow was terrific on the wing, while Zac Soutar, Jono and Lachie Sauze, and Gus Emery were terrific performers through the midfield.
Zach Dalton and Nick Lang cashed in with three goals each for the winners, while Jono Sauze and Jack Tenace-Greenall chimed in with a couple each.
Hayden Wallis booted two on a day to forget for the Magpies.
Garfield heads to Kilcunda-Bass this week for another winnable assignment, while Dalyston hosts Bunyip.
Cora Lynn full forward Nathan Gardiner is now a realistic chance of claiming a third-consecutive league goal-kicking award after a stunning 13-goal performance against Kooweerup at the Cobradome on Saturday.
Gardiner’s electrifying display propelled the Cobras to a 24.13.157 to 8.9.57 victory over a Kooweerup side that failed to show up after having its heart broken against Warragul Industrials last week.
The Demons were competitive early, but slaughtered after quarter time in a massive backward step from just seven days earlier.
Gardiner is a proven elite player of the competition, kicking 81 goals during the home-and-away season of 2019 and backing that up with 50 from 11 games last year.
He finished third behind Cam Pedersen in the league best-and-fairest award in 2019, and finished equal second, alongside Jaymie Youle, behind Pedersen last year.
With just one round of the home-and-away season remaining, Gardiner, on 71, sits one goal behind Nar Nar Goon’s Dermott Yawney (72) with Kooweerup’s Jason Wells (70) the other contender.
All three players take on top-six teams this week…so winning will be richly deserved.
Gardiner’s season has been super impressive, after he missed the first two games with a hamstring injury.
He had just two goals on the board after five rounds, but has booted 69 majors from just 12 games since.
The focus is quite rightly on Gardiner, because the game was all one-way traffic from very early in the second term.
The Cobras led by 17 points at quarter time, but an 8.2 to 1.1 avalanche ended the game as a contest.
The Cobras extended their lead from 60 points to 82 at the final change, before cruising home to victory.
Matt Ryan kicked three for the Cobras, and Heath Briggs and Cory Machaya two each, while Dill Bass, Billy Thomas, Robbie Hill and Gus Da Costa were all over the Demons throughout.
Mitch Cammarano kicked three, and Nathan Voss and Wells two each for the Dees, while Bailey Galante never gave up the ghost.
The Cobras head to Warragul this week, while the Demons resilience will be put to the test in a home clash against ladder-leaders Tooradin-Dalmore.
Kilcunda-Bass has overcome the disappointment of last week’s heartbreaking loss to Bunyip with a hard-fought 11.9.75 to 9.13.67 victory over Korumburra-Bena.
The Panthers looked set for an easy afternoon at the office, leading by 24 points at the main break, before the Giants came back hard.
With the Walker’s – Jay, Kodie, Zach and Byron – all in terrific form, and Matt Lello showing his competitive streak and class, the Giants narrowed the gap to just 12 points at three-quarter time.
The Giants came hard again in the final term, reaping 4.5 from nine scoring shots at goal…the most of any quarter this season!
Joel Cuman and Lello bagged a couple each for the Giants, who showed great character to bounce back after scoring just one point against Nar Nar Goon last week.
But the Panthers’ big-guns once again had plenty to say about the outcome.
Nathan Foote and ruckman Dale Gawley were once again all quality, while key-forward Taylor Gibson – who had the kick after-the-siren against Bunyip last week – kicked three important majors in a match-winning display up forward.
Foote and Marcus Baxter booted two each for the Panthers, who will be looking for their seventh win of the season at home against Garfield this week.
The Giants are facing a tough end to their season – and possibly their time in the WGFNC – hosting Phillip Island.
Inverloch-Kongwak has given Warragul Industrials an early taste of what to expect in its first finals series in the WGFNC with a 13.12.90 to 6.9.45 victory at Western Park on Saturday.
Barring a last-round miracle, the Sea Eagles and Dusties will meet in week-one of finals on Saturday 20 August, in a cut-throat 1st Elimination Final at the Bass Recreation Reserve.
And to be successful, Dusties coach Harmit Singh is going to need to conjure up an imaginative masterplan to try and break through a frugal Eagles’ defence.
Because, for the second time this season, the Dusties failed to do just that!
A three-goal second quarter was the only indication that the Dusties attacking flair can trouble the Eagles in any way, with the home side kicking just one goal in each of the remaining three quarters of football.
Flick back to round 10, and the Dusties had just one goal on the board until three-quarter time…before saving face with a four-goal final term.
In eight quarters against the Eagles this season, the Dusties have kicked one goal or less on six occasions.
Singh is a master tactician, and it will be fascinating to see what he comes up with for the first week of finals.
Defensively the Dusties stacked up okay, with the Eagles kicking two, four, three and four goals respectively throughout the course of the afternoon.
Jenson Garnham showed signs of his impressive talent, booting four goals for the winners, while experienced types like Shem Hawking, Tom Hams and defender Todd Mackie were impressive contributors.
Marcus Toussaint was superb in the ruck for the Eagles, while Lachie Scott won plenty of pill through the midfield.
Anthony Bruhn was the only multiple goal-kicker for the Dusties, slotting two, while reliable conveyances in Will Gibson, Corey Micari, Bailey Beck and Luke Walker were prominent performers throughout.
A rejuvenated Phillip Island will be the only team to head into this year’s finals series on the back of a six-game winning streak after thrashing Bunyip by 96 points in the battle of the Bulldogs on Saturday.
We are being a touch presumptuous there, but a last-round visit to Korumburra-Bena should provide no problems for the reigning premier in making it six-straight…after the 19.20.132 to 5.8.38 victory over Bunyip.
The Islanders have now defeated Cora Lynn, Nar Nar Goon, Dalyston, Tooradin-Dalmore and Bunyip, after being thumped in two of four matches between rounds nine and 12.
The Bulldogs – Phillip Island – have not only had to overcome that surprising dip in form, but also the loss of two key pillars of their recent success.
Skipper Jaymie Youle will miss the rest of the season with a fractured left wrist, while possibly the Bulldogs best defender, Daniel Pearce, will also miss the entirety of this year’s finals series after a serious lower-leg injury.
But, despite those losses, the Bulldogs looked a settled unit as they head towards the biggest games in early September.
The Doggies look dangerous and full of options up forward, with Max Blake, Orlando Kane Gillard, Jesse Patullo and Zak Vernon all kicking three goals on the weekend, with burly key-forward Jack Taylor chiming in with two.
Taylor has been in great form of late and looms as a key figure in the Bulldogs quest to make it three premierships in a row.
Vernon, Brendan Kimber and Cam Pedersen were also instrumental in the dominant victory, while Levi Robinson is proving to be an important role-player with those big games on the horizon.
Bunyip, who won three of its first four games, will finish just outside the top-six, on either seven or eight wins for the season.
That figure will be determined by a visit to Dalyston this week, with Jye Keath, Jeb McLeod, Dylan Gallasch and Ryan Quirk making the trip in good form.
Youngster Tahj Murphy was Bunyip’s only multiple goal-kicker…with two.