By RUSSELL BENNETT
GEMBROOK Cockatoo suffered its biggest defeat in four seasons on Saturday when the side was brought back down to earth with an 85-point loss to Warburton Millgrove on Saturday.
But the Brookers will look to rebound quickly – taking on local rivals Emerald at home this weekend.
An undermanned Gembrook proved no match for a Warburton side hell-bent on recording its first win of the season, going down 20.11 (131) to 6.10 (46).
The Burras looked more focussed from the outset and produced a scintillating 12-minute burst in the first term that netted 6.1 while rendering the Brookers scoreless.
Gembrook’s backline looked disorganised in the absence of cornerstone utility Andrew Shipp, while Scott Muir had his way with the Brookers’ defence.
AJ Walker opened the scoring for the Brookers with a mark and goal and Shannon Richardson added two of his own but the home side Warburton entered the first break with a 26-point lead.
The Burras extended their lead by just three points in the second term but that belied the run of play, which saw them dominate with fast, incisive ball movement.
Shane Williams and Nathan Leversha toiled hard for the Brookers but the side looked outnumbered in both attack and defence, while even their decorated midfield had its colours lowered.
Walker’s class still shone through but an injury to big ruckman Craig Clarke epitomised the Brookers’ dirty day.
The Burras went on to dominate the second half with the likes of Matt Wappett, Bill Irving and Liam Barnard running riot.
But the closing two quarters weren’t without signs of promise for a Brookers squad ravaged by injury. Josh Lafranchi, Leigh Scott, Sam Martin and Leversha fought hard in defence to limit the scoreboard damage, while David Main and Sean Sierakowski kept competing and Jarrod Henzen proved his worth at senior level.
Walker gave a polished performance all day, while Richardson played a lone hand in the forward 50.
Emerald will also enter this Saturday’s blockbuster on the back of a horror round three outing – going down by 68 points at home to a rampant Wandin.
Remarkably, the Bulldogs clung on to just a one point lead at half time but the side ran riot in the second half – piling on 14 goals to three to come away with a percentage-boosting win. Michael Fowkes had a field day for Wandin, booting nine goals, while Matt Dyer and Nick Crossland were also superb.
The Dompietro brothers – Michael and Mat – toiled manfully for the Bombers alongside Nick Jansen.
The Brookers and Bombers will face off in Gembrook this Saturday from 2.10pm.