By Nick Creely
OUTER EAST FOOTBALL
DIVISION 1 REVIEW – ROUND 4
Boy, did they need that.
Officer – after three false starts in the opening stages of the AFL Outer East season – finally broke through for their first win of the season, dismantling Warburton Millgrove after quarter time, 16.17 (113) to 6.10 (46) in a successful trip to Mac Sparke Oval.
As one of the most hyped sides in the new competition, the Kangaroos – who for the most part have struggled for the spark that saw them break their finals drought in 2018 – urgently needed to, whether it was by one-point or the eventual 67, come away with the four-points to help steer them back on course.
Doug Koop’s side has plenty of talent, and just enough experience to be a threat, and ventured out to take on the Burras with the pressure firmly fixed on them.
In what is arguably the smallest ground in the competition, the Kangaroos found plenty of space, and despite some errant kicking in front of goal, held an eight-point quarter time lead.
It took until the second-term for the Kangaroos to assert their dominance over the Burras, increasing their eight-point quarter time lead to 34 at half-time after an unanswered four-goal quarter.
And finally, the Kangaroos were able to break the shackles and play the football that all from the outside knew they were capable of, kicking 10 goals to six in the second-half to gain their first points of the season.
It was a mixture of the new and the old with Ben Tivendale, Matthew Clarke, Tyler Clark and Jesse Longmuir all standing up, whilse new recruits Brent Moloney (four goals), Dave Reilly and Ben Kerrigan demonstrated why the Roos were so keen to bring them in during the off season.
Pleased to see the Kangaroos on the board for the first time in 2019, coach Doug Koop told the Gazette it was an encouraging performance.
“It’s always good to be back on the winners list,” he said.
“The weekend was important for the players and their confidence to remind them that they are better footballers than their performances so far this season have demonstrated.”
Despite returning to something near their very best football, Koop hopes the Kangaroos can continue to build after the interleague break.
“We had 22 contributors this week, we took risks and played to our strengths, however we still have plenty of work to do if we expect to be competitive this year,” he said.
“One win doesn’t define a team, so we’ll get back to work this week and work off a few of the rough edges in our game.”
Koop joked that the trip to Warburton was exactly what some of his players needed to find some form.
“The trip up the mountain was certainly a bit longer than we’re used to but it was certainly worth the effort as we found where a few of our players have been hiding for the last month,” he said.
“It’s nice up there so the trick going forward will be to convince them to come back down the mountain.”
Pakenham, meanwhile, maintained its utterly perfect start to the season, moving 4-0 after a hard-fought win over Mount Evelyn at Toomuc Reserve, 10.10 (70) to 5.12 (42).
Ash Green’s in-form side maintained control over the contest despite no team scoring a goal in the opening term, with the Lions opening up the game with a four-goal second-quarter.
With the dangerous Darcy Hope (three goals) in good touch in attack, the Lions held firm to run away comfortable winners in the end after a terrific third quarter iced the game.
The returning Stephen Morey was excellent for the Lions and will be a dangerous proposition for the rest of the season, Jeconiah Peni had his best game gut-running through the midfield, while big man Joe Baker-Thomas had a big say on proceedings with an excellent four-quarter performance.
The Lions sit on top of the Division 1 ladder ahead of the interleague break, and have impressively conceded just 146 points so far this season, at an average of 36.5, clearly the benchmark of the competition.
In the remaining matches, a wayward Doveton overcame a slow start to return to the winners list with a strong effort against Belgrave at home, 9.20 (74) to 8.10 (58).
The Doves failed to register a major in the first-term, but slowly kicked into gear despite narrowly trailing at half-time and three-quarter-time.
But inspired a five-goal haul to Mitch Pierce, and equally important performances from Will Smith, Matthew Boyd and defender Daniel Zajac, the Doves kicked away in the final term to snare a vital four-points, leaving them in third spot.
Former Western Bulldog champ Matthew Boyd continued on his with his impressive start to the season for the Doves to once again suffer from a dose of leather poising.
Monbulk, meanwhile, remains undefeated after dominating Emerald, 13.19 (97) to 6.12 (48) away from home.
The Hawks are absolutely flying, playing a hard-nosed, strong style of contested footy, and it continued against a side that is struggling to put any meaningful score on the board.
Kris Fletcher was once again instrumental over four quarters to continue his red-hot form, while Glenn Strachan (five goals) ran amok up forward.
For the Bombers, Jake Pedder did all he could in his three-goal performance up forward, while the solid form of recruit Ty Ellison continued.