By David Nagel
A magnificent defensive effort has propelled Berwick to its third win of the Eastern Football League Premier Division season with the Wickers downing Norwood – 9.10 (64) to 3.12 (30) – at Edwin Flack Reserve on Saturday.
The Wickers, who began the round in tenth place, were expected to find things tough against the third-ranked team in the competition, but came out firing.
Berwick began with real ferocity, kicking 4.3 to 1.4 in the opening term to open up a 17-point lead at quarter time.
The shutters went down in the second and third quarters, with Berwick kicking a goal in each term while holding the inaccurate Norsemen goalless.
The infliction that has cost the Wickers dearly this season – a lack of conversion in front of goals – became their best friend on the weekend with Norwood wasting its chances when moving forward.
The Norsemen kicked three points in the second quarter and backed that up with five straight points in the third.
But Berwick’s win was built more on fantastic defensive pressure than just a bit of good luck and relying on the opposition to miss!
Berwick laid 15 tackles inside its defensive 50, compared to Norwood’s four.
The Wickers also used their renowned run and carry, and disposal by foot, to run the visitors into the ground and totally dominate the outside game.
The Wickers had 21 more uncontested marks as players like Anthony Vella, Lachie Vaughan, Madi Andrews and Bailey Asher cashed in on their ball-winning efforts.
Vella led the Wickers for stats, gathering 28 disposals, 22 by way of his left foot, while Andrews and Asher racked up 27 each and Vaughan 22.
Bryce Rutherford was the only other Wicker to rack up more than 20 disposals, having 12 kicks and nine handballs through the midfield.
Ruckman Jesse Cirulis also played a huge role in the victory, having 27 hit outs and competing well around the ground.
Midfielder Travis Tuck and half forward Trent Thomas also provided the Wickers front half with plenty of opportunity to hit the scoreboard, having five inside 50s each.
Harry Money booted three goals for the Wickers, while Thomas was rewarded for his terrific work rate with two goals of his own.
Jayden Graham was superb at the defensive end of the ground for the winners, while Andrews, Cirulis and Tuck were instrumental figures through the midfield.
Berwick moves up three places with the win but can’t relax, being just one win away from the relegation zone.
The Wickers get a week off this with a bye, before a challenging seven-week stretch that will decide the fate of their season.
The Wickers face Balwyn (3rd), North Ringwood (9th), Rowville (10th), Doncaster (8th), Doncaster East (11th), Vermont (1st) and Blackburn (6th) in their run home.
Noble Park 13.14 (92) v Doncaster East 11.6 (72), Doncaster 15.6 (96) v North Ringwood 15.11 (101), Rowville 10.11 (71) v Blackburn 14.8 (92), Berwick 9.10 (64) v Norwood 3.12 (30), South Croydon 9.12 (66) v Balwyn 13.11 (89), Vermont – Bye.
Vermont 87.50 win per cent, Noble Park 80, Balwyn 66.67, Norwood 62.50, South Croydon 60, Blackburn 44.44, Berwick 33.33, Doncaster 33.33, North Ringwood 33.33, Rowville 25, Doncaster East 22.22.
Balwyn v Blackburn, Norwood v Rowville, North Ringwood v South Croydon, Vermont v Noble Park. Byes – Berwick, Doncaster and Doncaster East.