By David Nagel
The Cobras are on the board!
Perennial powerhouse Cora Lynn has claimed its first scalp for the season with a dominant 17.18.120 to 4.7.31 victory over Korumburra-Bena at the Cobradome.
Such a win – against a team battling in the bottom reaches of the ladder – normally wouldn’t rate highly at Cora Lynn, but need and necessity gave this one a boost in importance.
After five consecutive losses, first-season coach Shaun Sparks finally tasted success.
“I think the guys really deserved this win to be honest, considering what we’ve been through over the first five weeks,” Sparks said.
“We never really flinched or moved away from what we were doing, but just to see the smiles on the faces was pretty rewarding on the weekend.
“They’ve worked hard, and it was just nice to get a win on the board to kick start our season.”
Those outside the four walls have understandably been asking questions, the main one being…What’s happened to Cora Lynn?
Sparks has a simple explanation.
“In my time playing and coaching I’ve never seen anything like what we’ve been through over the first five weeks,” he said.
“The flu, Covid, injury…I think last week was the first time where the team stayed the same from Thursday night selection to Saturday morning.
“I had to pull on the boots myself against Nar Nar Goon, it got that bad…at times it’s been a nightmare.
“But all the way through we knew where we were at, we just needed time to overcome that early adversity and now there are positive signs that we are coming out the other side.
“I know other clubs have had their challenges, but I don’t think any club has been what we’ve been through over the first five weeks of the season.”
Despite losing his first five games at the helm, Sparks had already seen signs that his time would improve rapidly over the season.
“We’ve been pushed from pillar to post, and I’ve been impressed with some of our performances,” he said.
“We pushed Phillip Island to five points, the Tooradin game we were only 20 points down during the third quarter…and we’re going to be a much different team at the end of the season compared to what we were at the start.
“That’s the most exciting thing for us all at Cora Lynn.”
The Cobras midfield dominated proceedings, with running-machine Jaxon Briggs booting four goals and Chris Johnson, Heath Briggs and Tom Stiglich having a mountain of football around the ground.
Gun full-forward Nathan Gardiner was back to his best, kicking four goals, while youngster Jett Edwards slotted two.
Daniel Brown, Paul Fermanis, Bailey Nation and Byron Walker kicked a goal each for the Giants…who head to Bunyip this week.
The Cobras will look to make it back-to-back wins on a day trip to Kilcunda-Bass.
Warragul Industrials full-forward Mason McGarrity has bolted to the top of the WGFNC goal-kicking list with a perfect 10-goal haul against Kilcunda-Bass.
McGarrity had his radar dialled in against the Panthers to take his season tally to 24 goals…and cashed in late as the accurate Dusties piled on 8.1 in the final term to win 22.13.145 to 7.6.48.
The Dusties have shown a real ruthless side in recent weeks, smashing Korumburra-Bena by 138 points and backing it up with a 97-point win over the Panthers.
But a dour 46-35 victory over Bunyip last week is the win that coach Harmit Singh will look to build on as the season of the finals’ bound Dusties unfolds.
McGarrity can lock in three votes for his outstanding individual display, while Kyle Beveridge, Nic Visser and Matt Herbert were others to have a major influence around the ground.
Beveridge fished with three, while Marcus Baxter booted four goals for the Panthers.
Nathan Foote was once again rock-solid for the vanquished in defeat.
Phillip Island was forced into a much closer than expected tussle against Kooweerup – with the Bulldogs surging late to score an 11.20.86 to 5.10.40 victory at Denhams Road.
The Doggies led by a straight kick at three-quarter time, but booted 5.11 to 0.1 with the breeze in the final term to run away with the four points.
On a tough day at the office, four goals to Jordy Patullo were treated like gold while the defensive efforts of Daniel Pearce and Mark Griffin also held the Doggies in good stead.
This was a really good performance from Kooweerup, who love a scrap and relished the ultimate contest in West Gippsland footy.
The Demons are not the first, and certainly won’t be the last, to be steamrolled by the Doggies in the final term…as Inverloch can attest to just a week earlier.
The Demons best players all came to the fore, with Nathan Voss, Cosi Anagnostou, Matt Voss and Nathan Muratore all having a significant influence.
The Demons are at home to Garfield this week, while the Bulldogs host Dalyston.
Inverloch-Kongwak is back in the winner’s enclosure after a comprehensive 15.15.105 to 6.10.46 victory over Bunyip.
The Sea Eagles were brutal defensively for three quarters, keeping Bunyip to just 1.6 at three-quarter time, before the Doggies restored some pride in the final term.
But a 5.4 to 3.3 final quarter couldn’t camouflage the cracks that were prized open in the first three-quarters of the contest.
Inverloch bounced back strongly from last week’s loss to the Island, while the Bulldogs now have a squared ledger at three-three and some serious work to do.
But they should turn at 6-5 at the completion of the first round of matches and that’s a definite pass mark for Tim McGibney and his crew.
Classy mid Oscar Toussaint was joined by Will Turner in kicking four goals for the winners, while utility types Shem Hawking, Thomas Wyatt and Dylan Clark proved too strong and smart around the ground.
Riley Rundell, Will Papley and Dylan Cann were the best of the beaten brigade.
The Doggies should bounce back with a home game against the Giants this week, while Inverloch face a battle-royal at Tooradin.
Nar Nar Goon continues to put one foot in front of the other, banking four points with every step, after an 11.7.73 to 2.5.17 win over Dalyston.
There was nothing flashy about this one for the Goon, with a four-goal opening term their most productive output of the match.
Mitch Homfray led the scoring with three, while two each to Brendan Hermann, Matt Homfray, Troy McDermott and Dermott Yawney provided too many avenues for the Magpies to hunt down.
Hermann was terrific for the Goon, in his 150th game, while James Cairns and prime-mover Trent Armour were others to shine. Hayden Wallis and Mick Marotta were best for the Magpies.
And Tooradin-Dalmore has warmed up for its biggest test of the season with a 24.14.158 to 4.8.32 thumping of Garfield as Beswick Street.
Unless our eyes are deceiving us, the Seagulls rattled on an incredible 13-goal second term to totally put the contest to bed.
Stewie Scanlon continued his dangerous form of late, booting eight majors, while Julian Suarez with four was the main focal point on the ground. Scanlon, Jimmy Trezise and Piva Wright were brilliant for the Gulls and will take some great form into this week’s classic contest against Inverloch.
Garfield’s best, Joel Batson, Jonty Bow and Lachie Sauze will be looking for a more competitive team performance when the Stars head to Kooweerup this Saturday.