Bulldogs are snarling

Sam Gibbins flew through a flock of Seagulls at Tooradin on Saturday. 193857 Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Russell Bennett


Reigning premier Phillip Island sent one hell of an ominous message to the rest of the WGFNC senior competition on Saturday with a 116-point annihilation of Nar Nar Goon in Cowes, 23.18 (156) to 6.4 (40).

The Bulldogs were rampant right from the outset, piling on six first-quarter goals to just one from the Goon to take a 33-point lead into quarter-time.

And from there, the situation just got a whole lot worse for the visitors with the Island ramming home another six majors to lead by more than 11 goals at the main break.

And the second half saw no respite for the Goon, as the Dogs continued their relentless attack on the footy, and scoreboard in kind.

Zak Vernon and Brendan Kimber had an absolute field day, booting six goals apiece, while big man Cam Pedersen continued his incredible start to life in West Gippsland footy. Hayden Bruce, Jason Tomada, and Alex Duyker were also massively influential – performing their roles brilliantly.

The Island remains one of two unbeaten teams in the competition, along with Cora Lynn – which put Dalyston to the sword at the Cobra dome, 22.19 (151) to 3.6 (24).

Nathan Gardiner backed up from interleague with seven majors up forward – taking his season tally to a competition-leading 37 – while Troy Tharle (three goals), Chris Johnson (two goals), Rylan Smith, and Heath Briggs (four goals) were also impressively ruthless.

Kilcunda Bass recorded its first win of the season – halting a six game skid to start 2019 – with a two-point, nail-biting triumph over a disappointing Garfield at Bass, 7.6 (48) to 6.10 (46).

The Panthers trailed early but bounced back to lead the low-scoring contest at the main break – 5.3 (33) to 2.7 (19).

Damien Holmes’ young side then held its nerve in the second half to clinch a famous win, which will no doubt provide plenty of encouragement for the group over the coming weeks.

Riley Cousins was stellar for the Panthers, as were the likes of Luke Callander, Connor Steel, and Shelton Rosario.

Kooweerup, meanwhile, proved far too strong at Denhams Road for the hapless Warragul Industrials – securing a percentage-boosting 78-point win, 17.14 (116) to 4.14 (38).

Nathan Muratore, skipper Tim Miller, and Joel Gibson all shone, while Jason Wells booted five goals, and Darren Sheen and Nathan Voss three apiece.

In the final game of the round, Korumburra-Bena showed plenty at the showgrounds but was still overrun by a fast-finishing Bunyip – 12.10 (82) to 6.15 (51).

The Giants have kicked themselves out of games with their wayward shots on goal a number of times already this season, and on Saturday they again wasted plenty of opportunities up forward.

They started fast with 12 first-quarter scoring shots, but could still only convert four of them into majors.

As the game wore on, particularly throughout the final term, Bunyip just proved too experienced, and too strong – courtesy of the likes of Damien Szwaja, Aaron Paxton (four goals), Michael Whyte, and Chris Kelf.

The battle for the top five is just as intriguing as ever, with Cora Lynn and Phillip Island currently heading up a chasing pack that includes Tooradin-Dalmore (six wins and two losses), Inverloch Kongwak (five and two), Bunyip (four and three), Kooweerup (four and three), Nar Nar Goon (three and four), and Garfield (three and four).

Much of the focus this weekend will be on two clashes in particular – Inverloch Kongwak’s clash with Kooweerup, and Tooradin-Dalmore’s showdown with Bunyip.

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