Garfield has continued to close the gap to the top five, following a 35-point win against Warragul Industrials in round 12.
The Stars were short of their best at Western Park, but they stuck to their task and had enough quality to see off a resolute Dusties outfit that just lacked the little bit of polish required to turn the game in their favour.
The win was Garfield’s third in the past four games and a defeat to high-flying Cora Lynn remains the only blemish on the Stars’ record since the shock loss to Kilcunda Bass in round seven.
Stars coach Hayden Stanton admitted post-match that his side’s performance against the Dusties would not have been good enough to beat the likes of fifth-placed Inverloch Kongwak, which they face this weekend in a crunch battle.
However, the home side’s endeavour didn’t make it easy for them and there is a steely edge about Garfield in recent weeks.
As it stands, they are right back in the mix and should they successfully navigate the tricky trip to Inverloch this week, they only face one more team in the current top five in the final five weeks of the season.
But back to Western Park, where damp and blustery conditions contributed to a low-scoring first half, with Tanner Stanton and Gus Mitchell’s first quarter goals cancelled out by majors Cooper Hampton and Zac O’Hara in the second, before Dean Johnson grabbed the first against the breeze to give the Stars an eight-point advantage at the main break.
Despite the heavens threatening to open all afternoon, a brief shower on the stroke of half-time eased the wind and the game opened up, which favoured Garfield’s cleaner ball movement and the visitors gradually surged clear to win 10.8 (68) to 4.9 (39).
Tanner Stanton was in great touch, spending time through the midfield and up forward, defender James McKellar performed well with and without the ball and midfielder Jayden Goumas was industrious all day.
For the home side, ball magnet Tyson Bale continued to find the footy at a rapid rate, while Michael Ablett and Shane Ingham were typically committed to the Dusties’ cause.
On the netball courts, the home side proved too strong, winning 70-31.
Lara Commadeur was once against in fine form, with 45 goals, and Kate Farrell chipped in 25, while Corinne Merrigan was the main threat for the Stars with 28.
The win keeps the Dusties’ finals hopes alive and moved them back within one win of fifth place and three teams ahead of them, including Bunyip, which snapped a five-game losing streak with a 50-28 win against Cora Lynn.
Not coincidentally, Yips star Jaz Mackie returned and led all scorers with 47 goals.
Cora Lynn proved too strong on the football field.
Fresh from a mid-season bye, the Cobras led at every change on their way to a 13.9 (87) to 6.10 (46) win.
Nathan Langley (four goals) and Nathan Gardiner (three) led the way in attached, with the likes of Chris Johnson and Jaxon Briggs getting the job done in midfield.
Jason Fisher, Jye Keath and Michael Whyte battled hard for the Bulldogs, who slipped to eighth spot on the ladder.
Bunyip’s concerns were minimised by the result at Tooradin, where Tooradin Dalmore defeated Nar Nar Goon, 15.12 (102) to 10.8 (68).
Waide Symes was at his industrious best with two goals topping off a best on ground performance, while Nick Lang (three) and Nick Schumann also impressing for the third-placed Seagulls.
Trent Armour continued his rich vein of form for the Goon, with Trent Noy and Matt Stevens (three goals) also prominent.
The Seagulls’ A Grade team continued to make light work of their rivals on the netball court with a 52-28 win against fourth-placed Nar Nar Goon.
Dalyston maintained the one-game gap to the ladder leading Gulls ahead of a top-of-the-table showdown this weekend.
The Magpies downed Inverloch Kongwak 46-37 on the back of 33 goals from Jarney Thomas.
The loss dropped the Sea Eagles outside the top six, below Koo Wee Rup on percentage.
Inverloch Kongwak – the other key player in the battle for fifth spot on the football ladder – made it two big wins in a row, with an 18.16 (124) to 1.7 (13).
Callum Beattie-Powell, Sam Gibbins and Toby Mahoney booted four goals apiece with Lachlan Scott and Oscar Toussaint among the others to catch the eye as the Sea Eagles moved two points further clear in fifth.
Dean Wylie was Dalyston’s best in his 200th game for the club, with Luke and Corey Wakefield among the other standouts.
Koo Wee Rup bounced back from last week’s defeat to Garfield with an 11.17 (83) to 7.11 (53) win against Korumburra Bena.
Brodie Yapp, Sean Alexander and Mitchell Cammarano led the way for the Demons, with Jason Wells top-scoring with three goals.
Ash Snooks starred for the Giants, with two goals, while Tyler Newton and Cameron Trewin were also good.
The Giants’ A Grade netball side celebrated Gemma Dixon’s 100th game today with a thrilling one-goal win.
The margin was never more than one goal at any change of ends, with the Demons leading by one at quarter time, scores level at half-time and three-quarter time, before the Giants shaded the points 35-34.
Chloe Hogg top-scored for the Giants with 20 goals, a tally matched by Koo Wee Rup’s Mariah Bell.
Despite the loss, the Demons moved into the top five on percentage, courtesy of Inverloch Kongwak’s defeat to Dalyston, while the third-placed Giants extended the gap to fourth.
In the final game of the round, Phillip Island was a comfortable winner against Kilcunda Bass on the football field and netball court.
Cameron Pedersen booted seven goals and was awarded the annual Gary Todd Medal as best on ground in the 23.15 (153) to 3.1 (19) win.
On-ballers and fellow stars Zak Vernon and Brendan Kimber were also dominant for the home side, who claimed the Eric Marks Cup.
Kilcunda Bass leaders Damien Holmes, Taylor Gibson and Dale Crawford battled hard for the Panthers.
On the netball court, Phillip Island’s attacking options proved decisive with Janelle Smyth (16 goals), Emma Felsovary (16) and Bridget Turner (11) sharing the scoring load in a 43-26 win.
Elizabeth Brouwer accounted for 18 of the Panthers’ goals.
Round 13 is all about the battle for the top five, with fifth-placed Inverloch Kongwak taking on sixth placed Garfield and fourth-placed Koo Wee Rup meeting rivals and seventh-placed Nar Nar Goon.
Just eight points separates all four sides, plus Bunyip which hosts Warragul Industrials.
On the netball court, all eyes will be on Dalyston, where the two-time defending premier will be out to end new challenger Tooradin Dalmore’s unbeaten run, which stands at 12 matches.
The Seagulls won the reverse fixture 53-26 to hand the Magpies their only loss of the campaign so far.