The start of something big?

Daniel Battaglin was in outstanding form for Nar Nar Goon on Saturday, creating many avenues to attack coming out of defence. 180266 Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Russell Bennett

WEST GIPPSLAND FOOTBALL NETBALL COMPETITION

REVIEW – ROUND 4

By the end of the home and away season, how Nar Nar Goon defeated Cora Lynn in Round 4 won’t be remembered.

But the four premiership points they got from the game could be.

If last season was any indicator, the race for the finals came down to the last day of the home and away season with Kooweerup winning its last game but still missing out on percentage.

There’s nothing to say that same situation couldn’t repeat itself, so any win throughout the home and away season is invaluable – no matter how convincing, or unconvincing, the performance.

The Goon deserved its 20-point victory on Saturday – there’s absolutely no two ways about that.

But it wasn’t the most complete of performances, not by a long shot.

And many ways, that’s a positive. No side wants to be at its best in Round 4.

After leading by around two goals at both quarter-time and half-time on Saturday, Dean Blake’s highly-fancied side was jumped in the third.

The young Cobras booted four goals to one to take a seven point lead into the final change.

But injuries to Brady White (hamstring) and Jackson Dalton (foot) would prove costly as neither could take any further part in the contest, and in the final term the fresh legs and composure of the Goon proved too much to handle.

At three-quarter time, Blake focussed on his side’s work-rate – telling his men to take the game on in the last, as a defensive mindset throughout the term wouldn’t get the job done.

But ironically that’s what was missing from both sides at stages throughout the free-flowing, up-and-back contest in picture-perfect conditions.

Ultimately, the defensive presences of Daniel Battaglin and Tim Payne at either end shone through in a game featuring plenty of attacking flair, run and dash.

Battaglin, in particular, was outstanding in his ability to read the play, while Jake Smith and Trent Noy (three goals apiece) were particularly influential forward of the centre.

Todd Beck and Trent Armour both had starring roles throughout the clash, too, with Armour – in particular – showcasing his all-around talent in a side missing a number of senior players to injury. With the combination of his ability to use the ball by hand and foot, his contested marking, his run and carry, his composure, or most crucially his defensive pressure, Armour would surely have to be considered as one of the competition’s best handful of players.

Alongside Cobras skipper Payne, outside runner Ryan Spierings (four goals) and ball-winner Chris Johnson were also stellar.

Though the Goon couldn’t put any significant distance between them and the Cobras on Saturday, they’d gladly walk away with a 20-point Round 4 win any day of the week.

Saturday marked the 18th marking of the Cunningham Cup, named after the family synonymous with both clubs. The tally now stands at 10 victories to Cora Lynn, and eight to the Goon.

Battaglin, meanwhile, was presented the Doherty Medal as the best player on the ground by Gavan Doherty – the son of Bill (Doc).

“It was one of those games that was up and down for the whole first half, and then I think both Mainy (David Main) and I asked a bit more of our sides defensively,” Blake told the Gazette following the clash.

“I said to the boys that we looked good when we were overlapping and using our hands, but they were doing the exact same thing. That’s what we tried to address – shutting them down first and then trying to work off them.”

Blake raved about Battaglin’s performance – much happier to be coaching him now, rather than playing against him when they were at Pakenham and Beaconsfield respectively.

“He just knows where the game is at – when to run off, or when to mark and hold back,” he said.

As for Armour, Blake paid him the ultimate compliment.

“When it comes to how we want to play, if I could stand him up and just say do what he does, that’d be perfect,” he said.

“He probably had 10 or 15 clearances today, and his defensive efforts are even better than what he does offensively.”

Ultimately, Blake – like everyone else – knows his side is a work in progress. But their upside is exactly what makes them so dangerous.

“As long as we keep going forward and keep improving on the little things each week, I think we’ll start going alright,” he said.

Interestingly, Saturday’s game featured four Blackwoods – brothers Jake, Tom, and Sam playing for Nar Nar Goon, and their cousin Chase playing for Cora Lynn.

CORA LYNN
3.3 6.5 10.8 10.9 (69)
NAR NAR GOON
5.2 8.5 9.7 12.17 (89)
CORA LYNN
GOALS: R. Spierings 4, T. Woodfield 2, T. Fernandez-Phillips 2, J. Dalton, C. Johnson
BEST: T. Payne, R. Spierings, C. Johnson, R. Smith, T. Stiglich, J. Arena.
NAR NAR GOON
GOALS: T. Noy 3, J. Smith 3, T. McDermott 2, T. Beck 2, B. Hermann 2.
BEST: D. Battaglin, T. Noy, J. Smith, J. Blackwood, T. Armour, T. Beck.