By Nick Creely
OUTER EAST FOOTBALL
REVIEW – PREMIER DIVISION (ROUND 9)
There is boundless fascination about how the AFL Outer East Premier season is unfolding.
From Mick Fogarty’s Beaconsfield sitting pretty at the top of the tree, to Cranbourne prevailing in a two-point thriller against the reigning premiers Narre Warren, Woori Yallock running over the top Pakenham in a massive victory, and Olinda Ferny Creek’s snarling form continuing, there is seemingly a twist and turn in every corner.
At Kalora Park, without the great Marc Holt, Cranbourne picked up one of those wins that mean more than just the four points, in a two-point blockbuster against the Magpies, 7.9 (51) to 7.7 (49).
There was very little that separated the two powerhouses – merely a burst of goals in the third term from the Eagles that spruiked the margin to 17 – in an absorbing battle between clubs that are proud, skilful and unflinching in their quest for success.
The margin was level at half-time, before Steve O’Brien’s group kicked four goals to one in the third term – sparked by excellent performances from Jordan Bertrand, Max Gearon, Bailey Buntine, and emerging star Corey Ellison, who was once again a commanding presence.
Ellison as he has in his three games so far took the game by the scruff in many ways as his side took a 17 point margin into the final change and in a low-scoring affair where every free possession and scoring shot was a premium, a very handy lead.
As champion sides do, the Magpies stormed home, holding the Eagles goalless in the final stanza, kicking three goals but crucially couldn’t muster up the momentum to find another to sail through the big sticks.
While the Magpies couldn’t bank the four points there was plenty to like as they move to a 5-2 record – Jake Richardson is in outstanding form and was the best for the home side, Tom Miller is putting together a super season, while Trent Cody found a stack of the footy once again.
Woori Yallock, meanwhile, picked up a huge scalp on the road and a confidence-boosting win, overcoming a deficit to register a 22-point win against Pakenham, 10.14 (74) to 8.4 (52).
The Lions were up by as much as five goals in the contest before Jack Cole’s side found another edge to run all over the top, combining physicality with gut-running to turn the game on its head.
It was an incredible impressive performance against a side also expected to feature in finals, and a sign of maturity as the season progresses.
As he so often does, Ryley Monkhorst was at another level, while his brother Zach was a colossal and kicked some important goals, while Josh Neal was a real spark with three goals, and some huge moments when his side were on the comeback.
Kane Thompson’s impressive season also continued with another assured display.
“It was a really good win, and we were down one on the bench – they got a run on, I think it got out to 26 points, and the boys just lifted,” Tigers coach Jack Cole said.
“It was massive for us – if you look at the ladder, we lose and it’s really hard to catch up with the clubs above us.”
Cole said that there is a mindset shift within the group as the eye back-to-back finals appearances. He believes that the clubs are starting to really work out how to play on the different grounds across the competition.
“Last year, we just wanted to win a game in the Premier Division,” he said.
“We’re really starting to realise how the other sides play – the old Yarra Ranges clubs now know that we have to really run on the big grounds.”
Cole was full of praise for Zach Monkhorst, Kane Thompson and Josh Neal for really getting the momentum swinging back towards them, but heaped praise on star ruckman Ryley Monkhorst for his dynamic influence on the contest.
“Ryley was absolutely brilliant, he rucked all day and it was such a physical game but he really stood tall,” he said.
“When you have him on your side you probably don’t realise (his impact), but when you look at the stats you count yourself lucky he’s on your team.”
The sixth-placed Tigers face a crucial block of games – Cranbourne away, Wandin at home and then Olinda Ferny Creek at home – ones which could shape the fortunes of the group.
“The top three in the competition are very good, and then the three middle sides are very even.” He said.
“I think the next few weeks we’d like to win at least two of the next three, but we’d like to win them all.”
The Lions – who will be frustrated by the late fadeout – were well served by Liam Tyrrell, Josh Tynan and Zac Stewart.
Olinda Ferny Creek, meanwhile, continue to surprise and excite in the AFL Outer East’s top-flight.
The Bloods enjoyed a ruthless victory on Saturday, brushing aside Wandin to the tune of 109 points, 18.10 (118) to 1.3 (9).
Now in fourth position on the table, Brendan Donovan’s group is rising quick and fast.
While the Bloods managed 28 scoring shots in a powerful attacking display – led superbly by Hunter Greenall and Lachlan Taylor who combined for 10 goals – the home team, who were playing the fixture at Woori Yallock, conceded just four scoring shots and didn’t conceded a goal until the final term.
Kelsey Currie’s outstanding season continued with a best afield display, while Dale Rohrmann and Pat Rosier were also strong contributors.
In the remaining game, Beaconsfield had too much toe for Upwey Tecoma, 11.11 (77) to 3.3 (21).
The Eagles held a 15-point half-time lead after a scrappy opening half, but kicked eight goals to two after half time to secure the 56-point win.
With the Eagles’ big guns firing in Brandon White, Nick Battle, Sean Dwyer and Jafar Ocaa, as well as promising tall Harrison Coe also commanding, the Eagles did what it needed to do to keep its unbeaten season alive.