By Hayley Wildes
AROUND THE GROUNDS
EASTERN FOOTBALL LEAGUE
In a standalone Eastern Football League fixture on Saturday, Noble Park hosted Balwyn at Pat Wright Senior Oval.
To say Balwyn got off to a strong start would be an understatement; it was apparent from the first couple of minutes that the Tigers – who boasted a 6-2 record prior to this encounter – meant business.
The Tigers piled on seven unanswered goals and kept the Bulls scoreless in the first quarter as their midfield dominance translated up forward.
With their work cut out for them, the Bulls attempted to drag themselves back into the contest in the second quarter but wayward kicking for goal cost them any chance of that.
At half-time, Balwyn led by 54 points, 10.5 (65) to 1.5 (11).
The onslaught continued in the second half as the Tigers – coached by former AFL coach Rodney Eade – put the foot down and never gave the Bulls any hope.
The third quarter was another scoreless one for Noble Park, while Balwyn put through another five majors of its own.
With the game all but over, the Bulls did manage to put some respectability on the scoreboard late and won the final term of play five goals to four.
But it meant little as the Tigers flexed their muscles all day and came away with a resounding, and simply dominant, 83-point win – 19.12 (126) to 6.7 (43).
The usual suspects of Kyle Martin and Jackson Sketcher battled hard all afternoon in a disappointing day for Noble Park, while Nathan Oakes (two goals) was the lone multiple goal-scorer for the Bulls.
The sheer number of the Tigers’ offensive threats was on full display with 12 individual goal-kickers showcasing just how impressive they are when they get going.
After an encouraging start to the season for Noble Park – which saw the side win its first three games of the year – the Bulls have come crashing back to earth in the last month-and-a-half, losing their past six games.
There was optimism surrounding Drouin heading into 2019 and after a strong start to the season, Round 8 presented the perfect opportunity for the Hawks to prove themselves against a high-quality opponent.
Taking on premiership hopeful Maffra, Drouin started slowly but fought its way back into the contest after quarter-time to eventually come away with a famous victory.
Trailing by 21 points and without a goal to their name at the first break, the Hawks looked in trouble. But they quickly turned things around in the second quarter, putting through five goals to be within 15 points at the main break.
While the second quarter was when the Hawks got back in the game, the third term was when they really started to get on top of the Eagles.
With the likes of Liam Axford (three goals), Todd Beck and Joseph Collins all starring, Drouin piled on seven goals to two in the term to turn a 15-point half-time deficit into a 15-point lead at the final break.
Full of confidence and run, the Hawks continued on their merry way in the final term, booting five goals to two to claim a comprehensive 38-point win, 17.11 (113) to 11.9 (75). A dominant second half that saw Drouin slam on 12 goals to four was the story of the game, and the Hawks now sit in fourth with a 5-3 record.
Meanwhile, Warragul battled hard against Bairnsdale but was unable to come away with the win.
Trailing by 20 points at the final break, the Gulls came home strongly but fell just short, 14.10 (94) to 13.12 (90).
Mitch Nobelius (two goals) and Kim Drew were best for Warragul.
SOUTHERN FOOTBALL LEAGUE
DIVISION 2 – ROUND 5 (SPILT ROUND)
Another standalone fixture over the weekend pitted an unbeaten Keysborough team against the Doveton Eagles, and it produced an absolute thriller.
When the game was there for the taking it was Doveton’s Nick Battle who rose to the occasion and produced the match-winning goal after a back and forth contest all day.
The Eagles entered the first break with a one-point lead and – despite dominating proceedings in the second quarter – were unable to make the most of their chances in front of goal in windy conditions as they kicked 1.8 (14) in a wasteful term to lead by just nine points at half-time.
With stars from both teams playing well – the likes of Tim Werner and Matt Carnelley for the Burras, and Cameron Carmody and Nick Beer for the Eagles – it was a gripping battle.
Keysborough came out firing in the third term, taking control of the quarter through its work around the contest, coupled with the Eagles’ inaccuracy.
The Burras booted three goals, while the Eagles could manage just six behinds and with a quarter to play, Keysborough led by seven points, 7.6 (48) to 4.17 (41).
The fourth quarter was a fitting conclusion as both teams fought tooth and nail for the ascendancy. As the final minutes ticked down, the Eagles led by one point after missing gettable chances to put the game to bed.
But as the saying goes; cometh the hour, cometh the man. After being held well all day, Eagles superstar Battle slotted the game-winning major – from an errant Burra kick-in – to give the Eagles a memorable win.
The final scoreline displayed the dominance, but lack of composure in front of goal, of the Eagles who eventually came away with an eight-point win, 7.22 (64) to 8.8 (56).
Andrew Ray was superb for the Eagles in a brilliant display, while Troy Cullen did all he could for Keysborough.
DIVISION 2 – ROUND 9
Pearcedale was no match for Crib Point on the road after a dominant first half from the Magpies had them 54 points up at the main break. The Panthers fought back in the second half, but with Tom Panich bagging nine majors, Crib Point went on to win by 51 points, 18.16 (124) to 11.7 (73).
Max Gearon and Travis Bravo were best for Pearcedale in another loss.
Devon Meadows almost claimed a win against Somerville, but fell short by one goal. In a seesawing battle, the Panthers were in the game all the way as Patrick Harmes and Riley Thorpe battled manfully, but couldn’t get over the line, falling 10.15 (75) to 9.15 (69).
After a heartbreaking loss last weekend, the Casey Demons again fell agonisingly short of a win at Casey Fields on Sunday against Collingwood.
The Demons got off to a strong start to lead by seven points at the first break, but the Magpies kicked into gear in the second term to hold Casey scoreless while scoring three goals of their own.
With Harriet Cordner making her presence felt around the contest, the Demons fought back strongly in the third and entered the final term three points adrift.
Collingwood kicked the first major of the fourth quarter to skip out to a nine-point lead, but Cordner gave Casey hope with an important goal halfway through the term.
The final 10 minutes of the contest were brutal as both teams gave their all in search of the four points. Casey just couldn’t get the job done in the closing stages and fell by three points, 5.4 (34) to 5.1 (31).
Maddy Guerin (two goals) was important up forward, while Cordner led from the front all day.