Bombers bang on!

Emerald player-coach Josh Taylor calmly slots a sensational late goal before team mates Nathan Bownds and Jack Preston rush to celebrate with him. 98597 Picture: RUSSELL BENNETT

By RUSSELL BENNETT

YARRA VALLEY MOUNTAIN DISTRICT FOOTBALL LEAGUE

AS IN most great footy rivalries – it doesn’t matter where Emerald and Gembrook Cockatoo sit on the ladder when they do battle. There’s always that little something extra spurring the sides on.
Both teams entered Saturday’s clash at Gembrook off the back of heavy losses in Round Three – the Brookers having gone down to Warburton Millgrove by 14 goals, and the Bombers crashing out against Wandin by 11 goals. Consequently both sides had everything to prove on Saturday, and played accordingly.
The first term was a real arm-wrestle, with the Bombers entering the first break with a two-point lead – 3.3 (21) to 3.1 (19).
Brookers’ player-coach Ricky Clark was instrumental early, racking up disposals at will, while Steven Gough – on his return from his VFL debut – looked dangerous forward of the centre.
For the Bombers, Ryan Simpson looked in sensational touch in a quarterback role while Jarrad Donders and skipper Caillin Porter also proved a real handful.
The Brookers were shorthanded – missing big ruckman Craig Clarke and versatile midfielders Andrew Shipp and Andrew Field – but its replacements in the side stood up well. Jarrod Henzen showed a real hard-nosed edge – including a big hit on Simpson – and was one of Gembrook’s best, while Sean Sierakowski toiled hard in the ruck.
The second term was just as tightly contested as the first, with the Bombers extending its lead by just a point – 8.5 (53) to 8.2 (50).
Gough and Clark continued where they left off for Gembrook, while Lee Clark began to assert some of his influence in the forward 50.
Emerald coach Josh Taylor, playing across half-back for most of the term, was stoic in defence and in the face of a strong wind, which Gembrook couldn’t take advantage of.
The Bombers maintained its slight edge heading into the final term but Nick Jansen, Porter and the Dompietro boys loomed large.
Porter finished off a scintillating effort – also involving Brodie Yapp, Jack Preston and Matt Haesler – from full-back to full-forward – in a sign that this might just be Emerald’s day.
The Bombers opened the game up in the final term – turning the quarter into a celebration for the visiting side as it edged away to a four goal win, 15.12 (102) to 12.7 (79). Taylor (at this stage playing deep forward), Donders and Porter were all superb in the last term, while Preston also capped off his best-on-ground performance with a stellar quarter.
Gembrook Cockatoo now sits in fourth on the YVMDFL Division One ladder with two wins from its four games so far. Emerald is only percentage-points behind in eighth.

INTERLEAGUE SELECTION
Emerald’s Steve Wright, Caillin Porter, Josh Taylor, Ryan Simpson and Matt Livermore have made their way on to the YVMDFL’s invited player list; as have Gembrook’s A.J. Walker, Shane Williams, Ricky Clark, Steven Gough, Leigh Scott and Nathan Leversha. The squad will be finalised on Tuesday, 21 May.