Officer’s best falls just short as ex-AFL players show their class

Midfielder Brenton Hillard continued his brilliant season for Officer against Woori Yallock. 405141 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Marcus Uhe

Belief is high at Starling Road despite the Kangaroos claiming zero points from its last two outings of Outer East Football Netball Premier Division football.

Back-to-back losses against premiership contenders Wandin and Woori Yallock showed what their best football is capable of, falling just short of upsetting the Tigers on their patch on Saturday.

It was only three points that separated the two sides at the final siren, with Woori Yallock sneaking home 8.12 60 to 8.9 57, after Officer made a fast start, kicking the first four goals of the afternoon.

Officer moved the ball quick and dictated terms to their highly-fancied opponents with everyone in the 22 buying into the process – a common theme when things have unravelled earlier in the year.

The Tigers made their charge in the third quarter, kicking four goals to Officer’s one, locking the scores at 44 at the final break, before prevailing with a handful of extra behinds in the final term.

Despite the outcome, the Kangaroos left the contest with validation for what they’re attempting to achieve in 2024 and beyond.

“We had a couple of blokes down, but it was pleasing, not only for the coaching staff and supporters, but for the players to realise that if they play the way they know they can, they’re going to be in more games than not,” senior coach Daniel Charles said.

“It was probably our best team game all year that we played on the weekend.

“It was pleasing, everything was great on the weekend, except the result.

“We’ve got a new team learning new structures, and they’re not going to get it right overnight, but I think they’ve shown over a number of occasions that when we do get it right, we can match it with anyone.”

Unsurprisingly it’s the leaders best-rising to the challenge of facing the competition’s best, such as Brenton Hillard, Jake Gains and Kyle Hagger, all with experience at higher levels under their belt in previous years.

Sam Hoghton has made a welcome return to the senior line up after an injury-curtailed open to the season, and Troy Tharle has strung together a month of senior football, having started the season in the reserves.

Livewire forward Antonio Quach kicked three goals, and Daniel Davies made the most of his opportunity in the senior line up, kicking two in just his second senior game.

At Emerald, Matthew Scharenberg’s case for the Shane Smith Medal as the season’s best player gathered further momentum in Olinda Ferny Creek’s important win over the Bombers.

The former Collingwood Magpie, whose AFL career was dogged with a number of serious injury setbacks, kicked four goals in the 10-point win, and was named in the best players for the 11th time in 12 outings.

11 of Emerald’s 12 goals came in two quarters of football, highlighting an inability to play four quarters of football once again.

David Johnson kicked three goals, making it six in the two weeks as he recaptures his best form since injury, as Noah Van Haren, Jack McGough and Jake Cawsey each added two.

Cawsey, McGough, Ben Lewis and Ewan Wadsworth, were among Emerald’s best.

Critically for Olinda Ferny Creek, its win and the losses to Officer and Mt Evelyn opened a two-game gap between the Bloods in fifth and the chasing pack.

Wandin made it eight consecutive wins in a tight shootout with Mt Evelyn, thanks to six goals from Aaron Mullett, who now has 30 in his last five matches.

Monbulk, meanwhile, provided the shock of the round, downing Upwey Tecoma by 70 points at home, to stretch their winning run to five games.