When the going gets tough…

Nar Nar Goon favourite son Brent Hughes got to work in the torrential rain.

By Russell Bennett

Who is to say whether or not Saturday’s results would have been the case in dry weather, rather than the at-times driving rain that transpired?
It’s a hypothetical question that doesn’t really need asking, let alone answering.
Of course, plenty at club land will ask the question ‘what if’.
After all, the wet weather is one of footy’s great levellers.
But those hypotheticals won’t bring the four points back. They won’t change the result.
And if those hypotheticals are to be entertained – here’s another one. What if that wet weather only highlighted areas in need of real improvement for some sides, and the unflinching desire of others?
Hardly anyone would have pencilled in Garfield to sit undefeated with a percentage nearing 200 and the ladder lead after the opening two rounds of the year.
Even few would have had Kilcunda Bass sitting in second as the WGFNC’s only other undefeated senior side.
But here we are, looking ahead to Round 3 with Garfield already having secured wins over proud local rival Bunyip, and hopeful contender Nar Nar Goon.
Again, it was three of Garfield’s newcomers who led the way on Saturday as their side clinched an invaluable 11-point win over Nar Nar Goon, 6.10 (46) to 5.5 (35).
Corie Intveen, Tanner Stanton and Nick Macente were all outstanding – as was hard-nosed youngster Daniel Helmore while for Nar Nar Goon it was the likes of Todd Beck, Trent Noy and Brent Hughes who led the way.
At Dalyston, meanwhile, the home side was within just a goal of Phillip Island with a quarter left to play but the Bulldogs came home with a wet sail to win by a shade under five goals, 8.14 (62) to 5.3 (33).
Coming into the side for his first game of the season, Jack Taylor was particularly influential for Beau Vernon’s men – as were Brendan Kimber and Jaymie Youle, who would have surprised no one with their performance in the trying physical conditions.
The two night games of the round also carried with them plenty of intrigue, with Bass overcoming a determined Korumburra-Bena by 13 points, 6.3 (39) to 3.8 (26), and Cora Lynn emerging triumphant over great rivals Bunyip by 27 points, 11.19 (85) to 8.10 (58), on an important night for the club in which it celebrated two premiership reunions.
Cobras sides this year will typically have an average age of 21 – often younger – and Saturday night was no different with Jai Rout (three goals), Rylan Smith, Jayden Deas, Levi Munns, and Tristan Fernandez-Phillips starring.
The final margin of the contest didn’t quite show the full story for a Bunyip side which let itself down in some basic areas, but never relented in its effort. There is plenty to work on for co-coaches Ricky Clark and Aussie Jones, but there is definite potential there.
Cobras coach David Main admitted it was strange coaching against multiple-time Cora Lynn premiership team mate, and great friend, Ricky Clark for the first time, with Aussie Jones also spending time at the Cobra Dome in the recent past.
The Dogs made a run in the third when the Cobras dropped the intensity, but the reigning grand finalists lifted again late in the contest.
“It took us a while to wrestle the momentum back and I think Bunyip lifted their intensity,” he said.
“They were chasing us in the first half, and in the second half we were chasing them.
“Bunyip came at us, and even though they were scoring, we still managed to stem the bleeding to an extent and then fire a couple of shots back at them late in the game to win it.
“Seven or eight of our guys haven’t played any more than 10 to 15 games of senior footy so we won’t know exactly what our make-up is until the middle of the year.
“Today was a case of being challenged when we had the momentum, and when it swung the other way it took a long time to get control back again.
“But the boys will learn from that and we’ll rectify the areas we need to improve.
“Bunyip’s ball control was good in the second half, and we were poor at trying to win the ball back.
“Our forward line has gone from having strong marking forwards to all of a sudden having guys who can run, defend and kick goals. If we can get that balance right, that’s going to be really unpredictable and really hard to stop.
“Jai Rout is a bit of a quiet guy, but he was so good defensively and setting our other guys up. He’s only 20, but he’s like a 25 or 26-year-old out there for us, telling blokes where to be to position themselves.
“He’s gone from being the kid in the side to having to stand up and be a leader and he’s not only playing great footy, but he’s also contributing in helping these younger guys like Tristan, Levi, and young Chase Blackwood.”

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