By David Nagel
Nar Nar Goon has breathed new life into the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition (WGFNC) with a stirring backs-to-the-wall five-point victory over Phillip Island on Saturday.
The Goon suffered early injuries, but stood firm against the reigning premiers who had dominated their first two games of the season. The 14.11 (95) to 13.12 (90) result would provide the Goon with a huge shot in the arm according to coach Luke Young.
“It’s a huge win for the club and it will give the boys enormous confidence that we are on the right track,” Young said.
“We think, and hope, that we are in the mix this year and that type of win really does build belief. We were down to 19 men, early in the second quarter, so to keep going and going and finally get the result was very satisfying.”
The Goon lost Aidan Pipicelli with a broken nose – that required surgery – while defender Daniel Battaglin was also heavily concussed in the early stages of the contest.
Young spent a week disappointed, not only in his team, but himself, after the Goon’s seven-point round-two loss to Garfield. He said he was keen to make amends against the Bulldogs.
“H (Garfield coach Hayden Stanton) definitely out-coached me last week and it made me realise I have to put more work in,” Young said.
“Teams like Phillip Island are easy to look at, everyone wants to watch them to see what level we need to get to, but I just assumed Garfield would play the way they always have.
“It was a real wake-up call and something I admitted to in our post-game review.”
Phillip Island had the better of the early exchanges, with Hayden Bruce dynamic up forward with three goals in the first quarter and Eli Richards and Max Blake causing concerns for a weakened Goon defence.
But the Goon showed true grit, kicking four consecutive goals to turn a 17-point deficit into a seven-point lead. The Bulldogs answered with three of their own before the game turned into an arm-wrestle.
No more than nine points would separate the teams in the second half, with Blake stretching the lead to nine at the 13-minute mark of the final term.
An answer from Trent Noy brought the Goon to within a kick before Jake Smith capitalised on a 50-metre penalty to put the visitors back in front. The Bulldogs had one late thrust but the Goon held on for a famous victory.
“They’re all good when you win but it was a great game of footy, really intense, and the worse the weather got the harder both teams went at it,” Young explained.
“They got three goals ahead in the first quarter, and you start to think are we off the pace, but we were confident we had the right match ups and it played out that way in the end.”
The Goon had many fine contributors, with Eamon Trigg and Noy doing an effective double-team act on Bulldogs’ superstar Cam Pedersen, while the experience of Troy McDermott was critical in the last quarter, and either side of three-quarter time.
McDermott snagged late goals either side of the last break before turning his attention to marshalling the forward line into shape.
Brad Homfray joined Noy and Trigg on the Goon’s best players list, while Blake with five, and Bruce with four, were dangerous commodities for the vanquished. And Daniel Pearce continued his good form off half back.
The inclusion of former Hawthorn hard-nut Campbell Brown has helped Kilcunda-Bass to its first win of the season with the Panthers scoring a 15-point victory over Dalyston.
The 37-year-old showed that age shall not wary them during Anzac round, with his four goals proving vital in a 12.8 (80) to 10.5 (65) score line.
Brown was at his hard-hitting best, and received great support from the likes of Brad Aldwell and the very consistent Darcy Atkins. This was a big win for the Panthers who were simply non-competitive in earlier outings against Phillip Island and Warragul.
Dalyston coach Peter Dunlop will be really disappointed with this one, especially with the third quarter where the Magpies surrendered a three-point lead to trail by 34 points at three-quarter time.
Brendan Walsh, Harrison Wright and Wayne Luke led a last-quarter charge from the Magpies, but the damage had been done.
The Magpies will look to bounce back in a home clash with Inverloch, while the Panthers will take some confidence into a very tough road trip to Tooradin.
Garfield’s impressive form has continued with the Stars turning an expected Saturday night blockbuster into a one-act affair against Bunyip.
The Stars never gave the Bulldogs a look in, kicking five goals to none in the first term and then applying the brakes from there. The Bulldogs could manage just two goals to three-quarter time in their first major test for the season.
Matt Rennie was outstanding for the Stars with four goals, while hard-nut Jayden Goumas continues to build a solid resume in season 2021. Dan Helmore and Gav Pears were also impressive for the winners, while Jackson Dalton and ruckman Agape Patolo were two of a few that could hold their heads high for the Bulldogs.
Cora Lynn survived an unexpected scare to score a 28-point – 14.11 (95) to 10.7 (67) – victory over a vastly improved Kooweerup.
The Cobras did win all four quarters, but by margins of eight, seven, nine and four – a lot less than what most people would have expected.
The real story of this match was the battle of two key forwards, with Nathan Gardiner booting six for the Cobras and Nathan Voss matching that total for the Demons. Matt Voss and Tristan Fernandez-Phillips were solid support acts with three goals for their respective teams.
We’ll find out more about the Cobras when they take on Garfield this weekend.
Inverloch-Kongwak is just percentage away from second place on the ladder after the Sea Eagles overcame a slow start to defeat Korumburra-Bena by 55 points, 13.18 (96) to 6.5 (41).
Ben Soumilas’s boys broke the game open in the second and third terms, booting 11 goals to three to take total control of the contest. Former Hawthorn champ Jarryd Roughead was once again instrumental in the victory, slotting five majors, while Clint McCaughan continued his fantastic recent run of form.
Paul Alger will be happy with the Giants efforts in the first and last quarters – but not the effort that was sandwiched in between. Rhys Dixon continues to be a shining light for the Giants, kicking three, while Josh Hill and Brock Dorling never gave up the ghost.
And Tooradin-Dalmore recruit Stewie Scanlon has climbed his way up the competition leaderboard with a four-goal effort in the Seagulls 12.11 (83) to 7.2 (44) victory over Warragul Industrials.
The Narre Warren premiership forward is finding his feet nicely in a Seagulls jumper, booting multiple goals in his first three games for the club. Hastings’ recruits Steve Robb and Dylan Paarlberg also starred for the visitors, while experienced pair Kane Taylor and Shane Brewster stuck to their guns for the Dusties.
The Dusties will be looking to even out a one-two season record when they travel to Korumburra-Bena on Saturday.