By Russell Bennett
WEST GIPPSLAND FOOTBALL NETBALL COMPETITION
REVIEW – ROUND 9
Leading into Saturday’s clash with Garfield, last year’s beaten grand finalist Cora Lynn hadn’t yet defeated a side above it on the ladder in 2018.
But in the space of just a few short hours, the Cobras gave a true indication of just how far their potential could yet take them – brushing off the Stars in a comprehensive 68-point win, 18.14 (122) to 8.6 (54).
Heading into the clash at 4-4 and two wins behind Garfield outside the top five, the Cobras simply had to win on Saturday.
But it wasn’t only that they won – it’s how they did it; seemingly dismantling the Stars.
They applied seemingly relentless pressure right from the outset that forced the Stars into second-guessing themselves for the vast majority of the contest.
Slower-than-ideal ball movement from the visitors, particularly by foot, seemed to be a direct result of the pressure applied to them all over the ground, while the Stars’ forwards did themselves no favours by pushing so far up the ground there was little by way of any consistent target inside forward 50.
But by the same token the home side was allowed too much space to move the ball out of defence, setting up countless forays forward.
Though the Cobras had nine first-quarter scoring shots to just three from the Stars, they led by just 16 points at quarter-time.
But the second term was a much more accurate reflection of the flow of the game as the home side opened up a 39-point lead by the main break.
Cora Lynn coach David Main preached ruthlessness at the break – for his side to keep the foot on the throat of their opposition and finish the job they’d started.
One of the leaders of the playing group, Jackson Dalton, spoke about controlling the controllables – such as effort and intensity at the contest.
Fittingly, it was Dalton who led from the front in the third – doing just that.
He kicked two mercurial goals in the space of less than a minute at one stage and ultimately booted four of his six total majors in the third term.
In running away with the contest, the Cobras had match-winners seemingly all over the ground – headed by Dalton, Chris Johnson, skipper Tim Payne, Billy Thomas, and half-back Brayden Weller. Jayden Goumas and Tanner Stanton toiled hard all day for the Stars, as did Daniel Johnson in his role up forward.
Speaking to the Gazette after the clash, Main said that while Garfield continued to push in the final term, it was particularly pleasing that in the first three quarters – when the game was there to be won – his players stood tall, particularly his younger brigade.
“They challenged each other all week on the track,” he said.
“Phillip Island gave us a big lesson in team footy (in Round 8).
“Internally we rate our young guys really highly, but realistically in the last two years they’ve made the grand final and lost to Garfield.
“Our young guys were challenged during the week to stand up, and they did.
“One of our highlights was seeing a 16-year-old kid (Luke Hartley in his first senior game) kick a goal, and guys run the whole length of the ground to say well done.
“He brought that excitement and energy into the group and it reflected on how we played.”