By Nick Creely
SOUTH EAST FOOTBALL NETBALL LEAGUE
REVIEW – ROUND 11 (SPLIT ROUND)
Pakenham coach Ash Green simply won’t be drawn into finals talk despite his Lions now within striking distance of Officer in fifth spot.
The Lions’ stingy defence took its first real scalp of the season in horrendous, torrential conditions at Toomuc Reserve, knocking off a Beaconsfield side battling with injury, 6.10 (46) to 3.4 (22).
Despite being just two points away from Doug Koop’s Kangaroos and with a superior percentage, Green isn’t talking the ‘F’ word just yet, and wants his side to keep building its form.
“We aren’t talking finals; we were just looking to beat a side inside the top five to get some enthusiasm in the second half of the year,” he said.
“We’ve lost a few games we should have won, so we aren’t thinking about finals, we just want to be competitive. We’re up against it, so we won’t look that far ahead.”
Missing key cogs in Scott Meyer, Nathan Langley, Lachlan Modica, and the Eagles couldn’t quite adjust to the conditions, but remained well and truly in the contest at half time, with both sides kicking just the one goal apiece.
The importance of James Harrison (three goals) in the attacking half proved pivotal in the end, with the Lions locking down defensively and managing to find some run in the wet to kick five goals after half time.
Green was proud of his side for bouncing back from a lacklustre effort last week.
“We were really disappointed in our effort against Tooradin last week, and we made a conscience effort to have a really good week on the track – we had a couple of guys who were out injured, and they put a bit of pressure on the playing group,” he said.
“We brought a few new players in, so I’m pretty proud of the boys – conditions wise, it was miserable and two sides were out there having a crack, so it wasn’t probably the greatest spectacle.
“To our credit, we played well, so (I’m) happy with the performance.”
Stats suggest that Green’s side is firming into fifth spot, with his improved defence leaking on average just 82 points, less than Officer.
“It’s important to have a strong defence, and we’ve been able to throw different blokes down there at times, and like any good side, you have to be versatile,” he said.
“We’re really happy with our backline, we put a couple guys down back and they did a terrific job, but it doesn’t mean they’ll be there the following week against Narre.
“We can certainly defend, but our problem has been scoring, and that’s still a work in progress, that’s for sure.”
Down by the Westernport, Tooradin-Dalmore pushed ladder-leaders Narre Warren to the brink, but the Magpies’ experience ensured they could walk away with the four points, 13.8 (86) to 7.10 (52).
The Magpies looked flat-footed for most of the contest in muddy conditions, and amazingly, found themselves down by under a kick at three-quarter time after the Seagulls kicked four goals in the term.
It took a major spark for Matt Shinners’ side to emerge with a win, with young pair Peter Gentile and Tom Miller finding much needed goals early in the final term, before the visitors slammed the door shut with a further four goals.
The experience of Brad Scalzo and Michael Collins in the guts helped the Magpies over the line with polished displays, while Seagull skipper Matt Livermore, Andrew Dean (three goals) and Brad Lenders were instrumental in a terrific effort by the home side.
In the final game on the weekend, Berwick kept Officer goalless in a defensive masterclass at Starling Road, 10.11 (71) to 0.6 (6).
While the Wickers still managed to kick 71 points in the rain, it’s been a wonderful three weeks of defence that has brought Stewart Kemperman’s side back into second spot.
Incredibly, the Wickers have conceded over 100 points less than any side in the competition, and are building into their best form.
The Wickers jumped out of the blocks to kick three first quarter goals, and steadily built the lead throughout the day as Travis Tuck, Matthew Young, Bryce Rutherford and Madi Andrews dominated the middle.
But in defence – despite missing Michael Riseley – the Wickers didn’t give the Kangaroos an inch, leaving them precariously hanging onto fifth spot on the ladder.
Earlier in the round, back on 9 June, Cranbourne dominated Doveton at home, 35.21 (231) to 3.2 (20).
Round 12 will be another split round, with Cranbourne and Tooradin-Dalmore to do battle, while Officer will host Doveton in a must-win game for the Kangaroos. The following week, Beaconsfield hosts Berwick, while Pakenham faces a big test against Narre Warren at home.