By David Nagel
Tooradin-Dalmore is ready to answer the biggest and broadest questions that West Gippsland football has to offer after the Seagulls demolished a disappointing and undisciplined Garfield by 67 points – 17.17 (119) to 8.4 (52) – at Westernport Oval on Saturday.
The Seagulls had this one locked away in an instant, kicking 6.7 to 0.1 in a one-sided start to what was expected to be a hard-fought affair between the fifth and sixth-ranked teams in the competition.
The Stars narrowly closed the gap in the second term, with the aid of the breeze, with a Matt Rennie banana at the 19-minute mark leaving the scoreboard reading 7.10.52 to 2.4.16 at half time.
Fill-in Stars coach Darren Ricketts told his players to reset…”play one-on-one and be brave” at half time…but the Stars were taught a football lesson in the third term as the Seagulls ran riot.
Piva Wright started the carnage in the fifth minute, followed by a Stewie Scanlon long bomb that effectively ended the game as a contest. The Stars had brief respite when Ned Marsh converted a Reenie pass after nine minutes of play, but the Seagulls then continued their rampage.
Scanlon converted again at the 12-minute mark, before hitting Andrew Dean with a perfectly executed pass to the fat side that resulted in another goal.
The scores were 81-22 by now and starting to get nasty.
Garfield became undisciplined and gave away three 50-metre penalties for the quarter, including one paid by the umpire and after hearing swearing directed his way and coming from the coach’s box.
Dean converted again, before Julian Suarez kicked truly from the top of the goal square after being the beneficiary of one of those 50-metre advancements.
Rennie then answered with a magnificent right-foot snap from the boundary line before Scanlon capped off a mesmerising third-quarter of football with a mark and set shot from 35-metres out.
The clocked ticked over the 28-minute mark as the goal umpire, quite appropriately, waved his two white flags, signalling the first time this year that the Stars had conceded 100 points.
Tooradin’s football was no only breathtaking to watch, but had certain elements that suggested a real team-first mentality is filtering through the group.
Liam Adams sacrificed his own attempt at the footy, and his body, to clear a path for Michael Hobbs, while a shepherd from Cam Brown for Brad Butler was performed with real intent.
And when Dean refused to try and mark one handed, instead tapping the ball forward to Brown – and then holding back his opponent – you knew you were watching a team that has some real care for each other.
It’s those little things that have been missing in big moments against quality opposition this year.
“Let’s play four quarters of football for the first time this year,” was Seagulls’ coach Lachie Gillespie’s parting message to his group at three-quarter time.
The Seagulls didn’t quite achieve that aim, being outscored by four goals to three in the final term, but the positives far, far outweighed that minor negative.
Dean and Scanlon booted five each; with Wright and Suarez contributing two in a timely reminder of the potency potential of the Seagulls front half.
Scanlon in particular was fantastic, with his creativity, either in the air or at ground level, causing massive headaches for the Stars’ defence.
Steve Robb was the most effective midfielder on the ground, while Adams and Dylan Wilson were terrific contributors across the four quarters.
The Stars have built credits this year, and no doubt missed the grunt of Jayden Goumas and class of Tanner Stanton up forward, but this is a performance they would much like to forget.
Rennie made the most of his limited opportunities up forward, booting three, while Marsh slotted two and Ryan Hillard and Zac Soutar never gave up the ghost throughout.
The Stars host Kilcunda-Bass in a real danger game this week, while Tooradin rolls out the welcome mat for Cora Lynn in the WGFNC Match of the Day.
Kooweerup has almost pulled off the biggest upset of the season with the Demons forcing Inverloch-Kongwak to dig deep for its 7.13 (55) to 6.6 (42) victory at Denhams Road.
The Demons started the better and got reward for effort seven minutes in when class-conveyance Nathan Voss took a juggling one-handed mark over Campbell McKenzie and converted from 35 out.
The Sea Eagles knew they were in for a tough day at the office when Cam Roughead shanked a set shot from close range, and were punished when Trav Bindley finished off a scrappy passage of play to put the Demons two goals up after 13 minutes.
The Demons stretched the Sea Eagles with their effective switching of play across half back, and were rewarded for a tough quarter of football when Matthew Voss put his head over the ball – received a 50-metre penalty – and slotted from the top of the goal square.
The Sea Eagles looked flat, like last week’s game against Phillip Island had drained them of their renowned intensity.
The Demons kicked two more unanswered goals in the second quarter to lead 5.3 (33) to 0.9 (9) at half time…an upset was well and truly on the cards!
Sea Eagles coach Ben Soumilas threw the magnets around at half time with Charlie Angley and Rhett Kelly – who both started in defence – kicking two goals each in a second-half resurgence.
The Sea Eagles responded in the style of a good team, kicking 5.2 to 1.1 in the third quarter to take the narrowest of margins into the final term.
The Sea Eagles consolidated their position with the opening goal of the final term and led by a straight kick – 47.41 – at the 19-minute mark. They then dodged a bullet when a Matt Voss shot on goal veered late to catch the woodwork, leaving them five points in front.
Some key players then – quite literally – stood tall for the Sea Eagles.
Defender Michael Eales showed great courage to take a great saving mark with the Demons charging, and Jack Hutchinson laid a strong tackle to earn him an unsuccessful shot on goal.
Roughead then made amends for his first-quarter shocker, taking a strong grab and converting to give the visitors a 12-point advantage with just minutes left on the clock. Ruckman Clinton McCaughan also took a clutch grab in the final moments…the Sea eagles just having the right structures at the right moments to get themselves across the line.
McCaughan and Eales were terrific for the winners while Xavier Hughes stuck to his guns when he had the dangerous Nathan Voss for company.
Koowee coach Rhys Nisbet will be rueing this loss after being a commanding 24 points up at half time in tough and greasy conditions.
Nathan Voss continued his outstanding season with three goals for the Demons, while Bindley, Mitch Cammarano and Tim Miller added more substance to already impressive seasons.
The Demons are ok and have four realistic chances to add to their win tally before the season comes to an end.
Cora Lynn coach David Main believes his team still has plenty of room for improvement despite recording its fifth-consecutive victory with a 10.10 (70) to 6.7 (43) win over Warragul Industrials.
The Cobras burst out of the blocks against the Dusties, opening up a 33-point lead at quarter time, and looked hell bent on destruction with a 46-point margin at the final change.
But Main was left a little frustrated after the Dusties kicked four goals to one in the final term to put some respectability back on the scoreboard.
Main said his Cobras’ form had been a little mixed in the three rounds back from lockdown.
“The game against Dalyston almost had a round-one feel to it because we’d all been starved of football, and we played great that day,” Main said of the 124-point thrashing.
“And then Korumburra, we’ve always had trouble putting them away and we knew that heading in, so they provided a different type of challenge (23 points).
“And this week we started great but faded out again and we need to rectify that as the season rolls on. It’s a good sign because we’re not peaking too early, but those fade outs are something that we certainly need to be mindful of.”
Victory was never in doubt for the 2019 runners up, with Nathan Gardiner continuing his fine form up forward with four goals and livewire Anthony Giuliano kicking his biggest haul of the season with three.
The Cobras cornerstone of defence – Robbie Hill and Ash Williams – were both superb on the weekend while gun-mid Chris Johnson and ruckman Billy Thomas were both on fire through the midfield.
The Dusties are no longer a threat to play finals but players like Jackson Mockett, Will Gibson, Anthony Bruhn and skipper Shane Brewster and stringing together seasons of high quality.
What was a definitive bottom four may now be a bottom three after Kilcunda-Bass separated itself from the lower reaches of the ladder with a stirring 23-point win over Bunyip.
The Panthers were kept under wraps for three quarters, but produced a stunning seven-goal second term to bury the Bulldogs finals hopes.
The Panthers have been threatening to produce something like this all season, and things finally clicked with Taylor Gibson, Dan Batson and Jimmy Phillips chipping in with four, three and two goals respectively.
Darcy Atkins and Connor Steel were also effective for the Panthers, who might be a chance to snatch four of their last six games.
Bunyip coach Tim McGibney will be shattered with his team’s second quarter…the ultimate difference between winning and losing.
Class-act Michael Collins relished the sticky conditions, while Jason Williams, Jake Stewart and Ben Brasier all chimed in with two goals.
Phillip Island had no trouble overcoming the absence of Cam Pedersen, treating Korumburra-Bena to a 95-point drubbing at the Korumburra Showgrounds.
Brendan Kimber pulled on the Superman-cape for the Doggies, booting six goals, while five to Max Blake and two each to Zak Vernon, Kai Mackenzie and Jaymie Youle proved too much for the Giants to bear.
Regular defender Jason Tomada also snuck forward for his first goal for the year.
Josh Hargreaves, Zach Walker and Matt Lello were best for the fallen Giants.
And seven goals to Troy McDermott was the catalyst for Nar Nar Goon’s thumping 148-point win over Dalyston.
The Goon led by 47 points at half time, but showed a real ruthless edge in the third quarter, having 18 scoring shots to nil in a 10.8 to no score rampage.
Brad Homfray and Brendan Hermann booted three each for the Goon, who had Jake Smith and Nate Pipicelli in rollicking form around the ground.
The Goon move to third on the ladder after picking up a whopping 20 percentage points on the weekend.
The Magpies best players, Mick Marotta, Luke Gheller and John Armstrong, will need to be strong this week when the Maggies host top-team Phillip Island.