By David Nagel
An explosive display of power running from midfielder Jaxon Briggs has powered Cora Lynn to a 27-point victory over the previously undefeated Garfield on Saturday.
Briggs ignited not only the afterburners – but the Cobras season as well – with a devastating display of pure speed that exposed the Stars’ honest and hard-working midfield.
The Stars were powerless to stop the ball magnet, who powered away from stoppages untouched, creating havoc with his lightning speed and one-two give and collects.
Brigg’s influence was super-important, with the Cobras starting with a familiar lethargy to that of its previous two performances against Phillip Island and Kooweerup.
Garfield had all the early play.
Key forward Matt Rennie opened with two goals in the opening six minutes of play. One with a creative right-foot snap from the pocket, with the second coming after a strong lead connected with a beautiful pass from big-man Zac Soutar.
It took a miracle conversion from Shaun Sparks – from directly under the sign of the Peter Parker Pavilion – to keep the Cobras in the hunt early. But when Dan Helmore kicked the Stars’ third, at the 22-minute mark, it appeared the Cobras were in for a long day at the office.
But enter the road runner…beep, beep and he was gone!
Briggs played a direct hand in an immediate answer for the home side, snaring some great ruckwork from James Mackenzie to hit Travis Woodfield on the lead. Five minutes later, at the 28-minute mark, he struck a major blow himself to bring the Cobras back to within a point.
Mackenzie would then capitalise on a 50-metre penalty – one of several paid in the first half – to give the home side an improbable six-point lead at quarter time.
Garfield coach Hayden Stanton was not impressed with his charges.
“We’re allowed to make life difficult for him boys, there are no rules that say we can’t apply pressure and make life difficult for him,” Stanton said, respecting of Brigg’s dominance.
“We started well and then you blokes thought let’s do it the easy way and coast, well there are no easy days in football.”
Stanton’s mood would have darkened even further at the start of the second, with Matt Ryan and Gus Da Costa extending the lead to three goals after four minutes of play.
Briggs then lit up the Cobradome, slicing through the Stars’ midfield, twice in two minutes, to set up a tap in for Matt Robinson and then kicking a fantastic goal on the run himself.
Both passages of play began in the Cobras’ back half, with Briggs taking several bounces at speed in an exhilarating display of running football. Briggs would then play a hand in a goal to Nathan Gardiner that extended the margin to 34 points.
Tanner Stanton would answer to cut the margin to 29 points at half time, but the damage, and the spectacle, had been done.
Coach Stanton would be happy with the Stars second half, but that half hour of play, from midway through the first term, exposed his mids for pace and will no doubt be a concern if the Stars do capitalise on a great start to the season and play finals football this year.
Robinson finished with four, Briggs three, and Woodfield two for the Cobras, who had Tim Payne, Ash Williams and Robbie Hill in fine form across half back.
Rennie kicked four for the Stars, their only multiple goal-kicker, while skipper Michael Wallace was sturdy in defence keeping Gardiner to just the one goal. Jayden Goumas battled hard through the midfield for the Stars while Soutar was effective in the ruck and up forward.
But Saturday at the Cobradome…it belonged to just one man!
“That’s one of the best individual games I’ve seen in all my time at Cora Lynn,” said Dave Main, who has coached the club since 2016.
“I thought Briggsy and Ash Williams were sensational. Briggsy with his pace and Ash was a pillar down back, taking marks and bringing the ball to ground. And I thought (James) Mackenzie was pivotal in the ruck as well,” Main said.
Nar Nar Goon is providing its supporters with plenty of entertainment this season and the Goon continued that trend in a 14.11 (95) to 12.13 (85) victory over Bunyip.
Luke Young’s boys have now been involved in three tight tussles in a row, losing to Garfield by seven points in round two before conjuring up an upset five-point victory over Phillip Island last week.
But this was a completely different story to the arm-wrestle at the Island, with the Goon playing some sublime football in the first half to take a 47-point lead to the main break.
All the Goon’s big guns were firing, with Troy McDermott putting his laser-like left foot to good use up forward and Brendan Hermann, Trent Armour and Trent Noy all proving dangerous commodities for the navy blue and white.
But the signature of good teams – a solid four-quarter performance – well it was beyond the Goon on this occasion as the Bulldogs fought their way back into the contest.
Led by Will Papley, Ben Stewart and Ash Allen, the Bulldogs kicked 4.6 to 0.3 in the third term and should have been closer than the 20-point margin that existed at the final break.
The Bulldogs continued their fight in the final term – but the damage had been done, conceding seven and five goals in the first half is a sure-fire recipe to take you nowhere.
McDermott ended with four goals for the winners, while Anthony Young played well against his old team and Ryan Bromley and Flynn also contributed heavily to the victory.
Tooradin-Dalmore is going to run into some fired up and tough opposition this season and that’s exactly what the Seagulls faced in the form of Kilcunda-Bass at Westernport Oval on Saturday.
The Seagulls would show their class, winning 12.15 (87) to 8.14 (62), but the Panthers can hold their heads high in a performance that will give coach Stevie Wright some positive energy to work with moving forward.
The Panthers led by a point at quarter time, but gave up five goals to one in the second term in the only real one-sided part of the contest. Both teams kicked two, three and two goals in the other three quarters of football.
Josh Mulheron was fantastic for the Seagulls in the ruck, while Jordan Kelly and Adam Oxley were effective across half back, and Stewie Scanlon continues to bob up on the scoring list – this time with three goals.
The Panthers were well served by the run and carry of Jack Soroczynski while the return of Nathan Muratore is going to make any football team better. Taylor Gibson was also in fine touch for the Panthers, while Jimmy Phillips and Jake Smith both slotted two goals in impressive displays.
Inverloch-Kongwak is travelling along nicely, making it three wins on the trot with a 17.21 (123) to 6.4 (40) victory over Dalyston.
It’s as obvious as the nose on your face that the Sea Eagles are a genuine top-three contender, and the gap was clear to see against a team that looks destined for the bottom four.
Toby Mahoney and Cooper McInnes booted three each, and Jack Hutchinson and Tom Hams two, while ruckman Clint McCaughan continues to impress with his silky skills for a big man.
Chris Samargis and Blake Carew kicked two goals each for the Magpies, while Brendan Walsh and Clay Tait never gave up the ghost in a tough day at the office.
Warragul Industrials woke up from a slumber – releasing the shackles at half time to record a 10-goal victory over Korumburra-Bena.
The Dusties have been a bit enigmatic this year, and they showed that again across four quarters of football against the Giants.
The Dusties trailed by seven points at the first break but turned that around to a nine-point lead at the major interval. A much-more polished 10 goals to two second half is exactly what Harmit Singh would have expected from his side after the break.
The potential is certainly there for Singh, with Jackson Mockett kicking four goals, and Anthony Bruhn and Darren Granger three each, while the form of Will Gibson and Kane Taylor will be important as the Dusties work through a season-defining month of May.
The reliable Rhys Dixon slotted two for the Giants, while Cory and Darcy Hargrave and Jordan Hill could hold their heads high in defeat.
And a rebounding Phillip Island was in no mood for favours with the snarling Bulldogs crushing Kooweerup by 170 points at Denhams Road.
The Bulldogs had 13 players trouble the scorers with Cam Pedersen booting five and Max Blake and Zak Vernon four each. Pederson and Mitch Moschetti were the standouts for the Doggies, who had a remarkable 19 scoring shots in a dominant nine-goal-10 second term.
Class-acts like Billy Taylor, Jesse Patullo, Hayden Bruce and Jaymie Youle all contributed multiples for the Doggies, while Kyle Nunn booted two for the hapless Demons.
The Bulldogs had a massive 51 scoring shots, meaning Koowee defenders Mitch Alderson, Tim Miller and Jason Cox should see the pay steward and clock-on for overtime rates. The Demons face another top-five contender on the rebound this week in Garfield.