Goon bounces back in style

Jake Smith was the star of the show for the Goon against Kooweerup.

By Russell Bennett



If one of the hallmarks of a quality footy side is its ability to bounce back from defeat, then Dean Blake’s Nar Nar Goon group is well and truly on the right track.

Over the second and third quarters in Round 7 against the so far undefeated reigning premier, Inverloch Kongwak, the boys from the Goon were taught a seaside lesson in pressure footy.

They rebounded in the last to lose by just 14 points, but they were under no illusions or false dawns – Ben Soumilas’ side faded late.

So, on Saturday, Blake’s boys had a point to prove against another premiership aspirant in famous rival Kooweerup.

And their ability to exert their own pressure would prove vital.

The Demons were undermanned – just as the Goon was last week – and missed the likes of big man Daniel Calteri, clearance bull Ben Kerrigan, and speedster Dom Paynter terribly.

The Goon got off to a strong start, led by the likes of Jake Smith and Matt Stevens (four goals), who, himself, made a return from injury.

Their pressure – at the contest, in defense, and even across the forward 50 – was particularly telling while the Demons were too often found back-peddling and seemingly second-guessing themselves.

While the boys from the Goon regularly burst forward in waves, the Demons looked reactive and they took a 41-point deficit into the main break.

It ultimately proved to be insurmountable as the Goon won 12.13 (85) to 7.7 (49) off the back of starring roles from Sam Blackwood, Trent Armour, and role players Jacob Sweeney and Shannon Stocco.

Jason Wells (three goals) was again strong for Kooweerup from his limited opportunities up forward while young vice-captain Nathan Voss, the hard-headed Troy Dolan, and the veteran experience of Craig Dyker and Anthony Giuliano also impressed for the visitors who, despite a down day on Saturday, will clearly still be right there when the whips are cracking at the business end of the season.

The feel-good story of the round, for black and white diehards at least, was Dalyston’s breakthrough 14-point win over the Yips at Bunyip, 11.13 (79) to 14.9 (93).

Due to a range of circumstances, both Dalyston and Bunyip lost a whole host of experienced, proven players over the off-season and have clearly struggled badly from week-to-week as a result.

But Magpies coach Paul Brosnan, who is in his final year at the helm of the senior side before the group transitions to coach-in-waiting Mark Lafferty, has been impressed with his side’s resilience the whole way through.

By Brosnan’s estimation, Dalyston lost 14 senior players from last year’s group – including some of its biggest names.

And while he wasn’t necessarily expecting so many to depart at once, he did somewhat see the writing on the wall given the same nucleus, essentially, had been together for around five years without all that much change.

So now it’s up to Dalyston’s younger brigade – including Brosnan’s nephews Flynn and Darcy – to take the next step in their development.

That same group includes players who are younger still, who would have expected to spend the vast majority of the year in the thirds under normal circumstances but have now had their opportunities fast-tracked.

“I always said I wouldn’t go beyond this year (as Magpies senior coach),” Brosnan explained, in trademark honesty after Saturday’s win.

“Instead of recruiting, we thought let’s do something no one else does – appoint a coach for next year (WGFNC senior interleague coach Lafferty) and get everyone signed and committed by midway this year, and come the next few weeks we’ll be looking for next year already.

“Our older blokes are only 25, 26 and we’re trying to build something for next year. “We think it was the right move, and all the older guys are on board and committed.

“This is about development.”

Brosnan said his group “hung in there” for three quarters against Garfield in Round 7 before getting run over the top of, but on Saturday played strong, positive footy from the outset.

The visitors were seven goals up at three-quarter time but were at that stage without a bench, making their performance all the more impressive.

Stars Clay Tait (ankle), Michael Marotta (shoulder), and young gun Flynn Brosnan (hamstring) all picked up telling injuries throughout the clash – the last thing an already undermanned group needed.

But that same group isn’t lacking for one thing in particular – heart.

“It (the win) was just a good boost for everyone involved,” Brosnan said.

“The club is a great place to be around, but you just can’t beat a win.”

Elsewhere across Round 8, Inverloch Kongwak powered to a 67-point win over Kilcunda Bass off the back of another starring role by Andy Soumilas, 4.7 (31) to 14.14 (98); Phillip Island proved too strong at home for Cora Lynn, 12.19 (91) to 6.9 (45); and Garfield had too much quality for Korumburra-Bena, putting the foot down particularly in the second half to win by 53 points, 11.18 (84) to 4.7 (31).