By David Nagel
The script-writers at the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition (WGFNC) should quite rightly be putting their hands out for a pay rise with another sensational round of action set down for this weekend.
Saturday afternoon, into Saturday night at Garfield, into a Sunday showdown between the 2019 grand finalists at Cora Lynn – it doesn’t get much better than that.
Lucky we have some brownie points tucked away after a family Easter weekend!
But first let’s reflect a little on what was a classic contest at Inverloch last Saturday, where Cora Lynn star Anthony Giuliano lived out every boys dream – and girls these days – when he kicked a magnificent goal after the siren to give the Cobras a three-point victory over the Sea Eagles.
The Cobras trailed at every change, but run in the legs built over a heavy pre-season finally paid dividends in the end…but boy did they leave it late.
That kick from ‘Giggz’ Giuliano was not only exciting, but could have massive late-season ramifications for both teams who look set for a long stay at the pointy end of the ladder.
Cobras coach Dave Main was elated with the win but would have been equally as excited with the way his team spread the load up forward.
There was no huge reliance on Nathan Gardiner, who was solid with two goals, with Karingal recruit Matt Robinson kicking three and leading an eight-prong scoring unit.
Robbie Hill and Nathan Villella proved handy acquisitions, while the Briggs boys – Heath and Jaxon – did enough to suggest they will be very dangerous propositions this year.
And that’s the challenge that faces reigning premiership coach Beau Vernon when he heads to Cora Lynn on Sunday for the first encounter between the clubs since Vernon’s Phillip Island scored a thrilling grand final victory in 2019.
Missing from that side this weekend will be Jarrod Andreatta, Matt Jackson, Jordan Patullo, Jack Taylor and Leigh Warne, with Vernon now having some new magnets to juggle on a weekly basis.
New-comers Max Blake and Orlando Kane-Gillard booted 10 between them last week, while Daniel Pearce and Kai Mackenzie will provide plenty of thrills this year for the Island faithful.
For many it was game the Bulldogs would always win in a steady build up for this week’s contest, but Vernon went in with trepidation.
“I certainly didn’t think that way about them (Kilcunda-Bass), I’m always a mix between optimistic and pessimistic leading into a game,” Vernon said.
“I was really happy with how we went about our business and we learnt a lot in the process. We’ve got a lot of new players, and some injuries, so I think it will take time to fully hit our straps this season.”
Vernon said a trip to Cora Lynn was a great stepping stone for the younger players on his list.
“They are a very good side and it will be a great test for us to see where we are at,” he said.
“We’ve got a relatively young list and this will be great exposure for those players at this level and intensity. I think we definitely go in as the underdogs.”
The game between the Cobras and Bulldogs rounds out a fantastic weekend of football, with the three games on Saturday afternoon – Bunyip v Dalyston, Nar Nar Goon v Korumburra-Bena and Tooradin-Dalmore v Kooweerup – all eagerly anticipated contests.
The inclusion of Narre Warren stars Michael Collins, and Dylan and Ryan Quirk, has certainly been a talking point and it will be interesting to see the impact they have on Bunyip’s list.
Collins is widely regarded as Narre’s greatest ever player while Dylan Quirk kicked the winning point in a thrilling 2013 grand final against Cranbourne – these blokes are genuine Narre Warren royalty.
And will Nar Nar Goon coach Luke Young continue the Goon’s recent dominance over Korumburra-Bena? Panther’s coach Paul Alger knows it will be a tough ask to reverse the trend.
“They always put a good side on the park and they seem to have recruited well so we’re expecting to run in to a pretty good brand of footy,” Alger said.
“They got hold of us pretty easily both times we played in 2019 so we’ll have to be at the top of our game.”
And Tooradin-Dalmore – widely tipped to be the biggest challenger to Phillip Island – will be keen to start its season on the right foot when it hosts a new-look Kooweerup Demons.
Steve Robb has been a gun at Hastings over the years and will be a handy acquisition to a side that finished third the last time we went around.
Demons’ coach Rhys Nisbet hardly lost a game against the Seagulls in his mentoring days at Berwick and will be keen to recapture that feeling at 5pm on Saturday.
And Garfield rolls out the welcome mat for Warragul Industrials in the 7.30pm timeslot.
The Stars won seven games in 2019 – five better than the Dusties – but we’re all expecting a much-improved performance from a better-stocked Dusties outfit this year.
Coach Harmit Singh has a huge reputation in community football and will be keen to make a statement under the bright lights at Garfield.
Those script-writers – they certainly deserve that pay rise!