WHEN 2019 cellar dwellers Kilcunda-Bass and Dalyston clashed in round 15 pride was on the line.
Victory would mean four precious premiership points and this win, that has been as rare as hen’s teeth for either team this season, would almost certainly serve up the ignominious title of wooden spooner to their counterpart. Given the high stakes it was essential to make the most of all opportunities and the Panthers did just that as with the aid of breeze they launched into action from the first bounce. Kicking to the town end, Connor Steel found Damien Holmes 40 metres out and the coach nailed his team’s first.
Dalyston’s attack into the wind was swept up by Sam Watson and the Panthers whipped the ball forward quickly to allow Luke Callander to kick long and accurately for their second. Tylah Osbaldeston for the Magpies negated the next couple of forward entries but the home team were on their game early and Connor Steel bobbed up to snag another six-pointer. Dalyston responded with some good run and carry work from Jack Legione allowing Brooker to have them on the scoreboard. And Brooker’s pin point pass to Blake Carew gave them the next.
Both teams were endeavouring to keep the ball in motion and despite the wind were displaying excellent skills to find their team-mates further afield.
Goals to Steel and Taylor Gibson for the Panthers rewarded the efforts of their midfielders, Rosario and Spierings who were both winning plenty of possessions. Carew with two bounces pegged a vital goal back for Dalyston to keep his team in the hunt but Gibson topped up his team’s tally right on the siren to have them leading by 18 points. The Magpies cherishing their turn with the wind worked the ball smartly to Brad Fisher who clunked the mark on the goal-line. Then Darcy Wilson repeated the dose having strung up his opponent in a fierce tackle. Not to be denied the Panthers showed fortitude and Ned Bradley found the dangerous Gibson and his kick from 45 was right on target. Holmes then set Jake Smith into clear space and the home team was meeting every challenge.
Remarkably to this point in the game the kicking accuracy had been unerring but after 13 consecutive goals Smith finally blotted the ledger with a set shot within easy scoring distance.
Free-wheeling football continued from both teams and Dalyston through Brooker and Fisher kicked three of the next four goals, but the Panthers were holding their nerve and maintained a goal advantage after an enthralling first half.
New tactics were adopted by the Magpies which led to a subdued start to the third quarter. Dalyston wary of allowing the Panthers control of the ball were prepared to lower their eyes and pick out targets heading into the breeze. And by playing to the defensive wing they achieved this aim and for the first ten minutes nullified K-B’s time in attack. To counter this the Panthers spread wide and Callander to Holmes connected with Gibson on the canteen side and he booted his fourth. And a long bomb by Gibson, who had been effective at both ends, springboarded their next attack as the Panthers went coast to coast finishing with Hayden Spierings snapping a goal. The now three goal margin was pruned back to two when Dean Wylie juggled a mark and crossed wide to Kurt Thomas whose mongrel punt somehow split the middle. The Magpies greeting the last change with expectations that they were still every chance. Having been in front all day K-B weren’t going to relinquish their lead without a fight and through Rosario, Gibson and Phillips the Panthers pushed deep into their forward line. Jack Rosenow intercepted an outlet kick and his handball released Luke Fakos who hooked through an unbelievable ‘Hail Mary’ goal from tight in the pocket. Dalyston needed to create some momentum and Blake Carew set them on that path with a goal from a tight angle. The Panthers knew the pressure was coming and pushed numbers back to stifle the Magpies with Gibson specially tasked with stopping Fisher.
Three times Dalyston fired off set shots from 50 or beyond, all landing just short to be rushed or just wide. But fourth time lucky Fisher marked on the goal line and Dalyston crept to within three points. With just five minutes remaining both teams were hungry in their approach and each contest was reminiscent of a piranha attack. All players putting their bodies on the line. Rushed points both ways added to the intrigue and with the clock winding down a 50-metre penalty critically brought the Panthers well into range. And from the time Gibson squared the ball to Phillips 40 out and straight in front the Magpies fate was sealed. In the end it was an eight-point victory that the Panthers were more than happy to celebrate.South Gippsland Sentinel Times
The Stars managed to put just one single behind on the scoreboard in the first term while their rivals had booted two majors and four behinds. Bunyip tried to make up the difference in the second term but could only muster one goal three, bringing their tally to just nine points at halftime. Garfield managed to draw somewhat even with the Bulldogs in the third term.
Just three points separated the two sides, going into the final term 4.7-31 to 4.4-28, but Bunyip still had the upper hand. Unfortunately for the Stars, that would be closest they would come to victory. The day finished with a 19point win for Bunyip. 7.13-55 to 5.6-36 was the final score line. Daniel Helmore was best on ground for the visitors, his four goals hugely influential. Jye Keath was best on ground for the victors.Will Watson - Warragul & Drouin Gazette
Nar Nar Goon went down to Cora Lynn on Saturday but mounted a gallant comeback effort in the fourth quarter, kicking eight goals. The Cobras started the day strong with an answered four goals and six behinds.
The Goons finally found the scoreboard in the second term with a one major and one behind bringing their tally to seven points at halftime. Cora Lynn on the other hand had added two majors three and led by 38 points — 6.9-45 to 1.1-7.
The Cobras almost doubled that score in the third, kicking six goals five. The Goons tried to catch up and but could only add another two behinds to their tally. But it was the final quarter that really belonged to the Goons. They kicked an impressive eight goals three to bring their final score line to 9.6-60. But in the end, it was not enough to overcome Cora Lynn who finished the day on 12.17-89. Troy Tharle was best on ground for the Cobras. Jake Smith was the best man for the Goons.Will Watson - Warragul & Drouin Gazette
Ben Collins' side was soundly beaten in the first grand final rematch against Phillip Island at Cowes back in Round 4 - 19.21 (135) to 7.4 (46).
On that occasion the competition's brightest star, Cam Pedersen, was in incredibly ominous touch - finishing with a five-goal haul in a sign of what was to come throughout the season.
On Saturday, with Pedersen again starring, the Island again won - but the margin was much tighter.
In fact, the Demons led at quarter-time before ultimately being over-run by 32 points, 12.13 (85) to 8.5 (53).
The margin, alone, gives some insight as to just how far the Demons have come throughout the season - after the pain of last year's grand final result, and a pre-season in which they struggled for consistent numbers on the training track.
On Saturday, buoyed by their performance the week prior against famous old enemy Cora Lynn, the Demons started encouragingly and led by 14 points after kicking with the aid of the breeze in the first term.
The wind was the only mark on an otherwise picture-perfect day at Denhams Road, and the hometown Kooweerup's trademark pressure was sky-high early.
Both up forward and down back, the Demons looked in sync early, while classy ball users Joel Gibson and Luke Walker found space to move.
Young guns Mitch Cammarano and Kalin Parker looked right up to the enormity of the occasion for group fighting for its finals lives.
But the Demons awoke the sleeping giant, with the reigning premier Bulldogs leaping into life in the second.
Pedersen started his second term with a crunching tackle and subsequent booming kick forward, while Alex Duyker proved a particularly effective mid-sized target inside 50.
The Island went into the clash missing a series of regular first team players, such as Alex Redmond, Hayden Bruce, Will Van Diemen, and star forward Jack Taylor - but Beau Vernon's group is only ever as strong as the sum of its parts.
And on Saturday, the depth of those parts was again on superb display.
With Duyker, Pedersen, Zak Vernon, and Mark Griffin all starring, young Billy Taylor also stood up with an impressive performance forward of the centre.
There was plenty of genuine feeling in the clash, as evidenced by some toe-to-toe battles across the ground, and two key 50-metre penalties late in the third which gifted Kooweerup two goals.
But with just a 12-point advantage with a quarter to play, the Bulldogs clicked into another gear and slotted three unanswered majors in the last to keep their unbeaten 2019 record in tact.
Pedersen had no less than four direct opponents throughout the clash, but was still a massive difference-maker for his side.
Playing in the ruck, he kicked just the one goal - but it was an astonishing one. Holding off his man with one arm in the third term, he took a contested mark with the other and then slotted the goal from near the 50-metre line on the boundary near the visiting coaches' box.
Though the boys from the Island survived their latest test, the Demons showed they could yet have a serious say in just how this season's finals series shapes up.
Resilience is important in footy, and Inverloch-Kongwak showed plenty of it on Saturday to bounce back from their loss to Bunyip and defeat Korumburra-Bena.
A win was important with the finals race heating up and the Sea Eagles will be thrilled with their 109-46 performance away from home. The away side quickly clicked into gear, with Beattie-Powell, Iezzi and Mahoney all hitting the scoreboard early.
The Giants struggled to withstand I-K’s pressure and efficiency around the contest but managed a goal toward the end of the quarter through Fitzpatrick.
The home side trailed 6-37 at the first break. While the Sea Eagles kicked an early goal in the second quarter, the term belonged to Korumburra-Bena, who showed great composure to bounce back.
Their midfield got on top in the contest and provided a lot of ball to their forward 50, where Cann, Nicholas, Dixon and Fitzpatrick saw them pull the lead back to 18 points at half-time. The away side used the main break to reflect and regain some poise though, and came out firing in the third quarter.
I-K booted four goals off of Korumburra-Bena’s turnovers, playing stifling defence and applying huge pressure on their opposition.
They held the home side to just a single point in the quarter and went into the final break up 8134.
The Giants tried hard to weather the storm, with strong play from Nicholas and Newton in the ruck a positive for the team.
Despite this, the relatively inexperienced home side was no match for an Inverloch-Kongwak team who had all the momentum. The Sea Eagles kicked four goals into the breeze, Mahoney picking up his fifth and Toussaint his third from midfield, while Korumburra-Bena could only muster two in the term.The Great Southern Star
Tooradin-Dalmore thrashed Warragul Industrials by 106 points on Saturday, 20.14-134 to 4.4-28.
Dusties could muster just one behind in the opening term while Tooradin-Dalmore blew past the 50-point mark with eight goals one.
They continued to hold on the lead in the second term, adding four goals two to their tally.
Dusties kicked another major and one behind to bring their halftime scoreline to 13 points. The third term saw the visitor blow past the 100-point mark, with another three goals seven.
The Dusties added one more major and one more minor score to their tally but still trailed by almost 80 points.
The final term was more bad new for the home side. They failed to stop another five goals from the visitors and kicked only one more goal themselves.Will Watson - Warragul & Drouin Gazette
LADDER AFTER ROUND 15
LEADING GOAL KICKERS AFTER ROUND 15
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Bunyip v Garfield, Cora Lynn v Nar Nar Goon and Warragul Industrials v Tooradin-Dalmore match reviews written by Will Watson reporting for Warragul & Drouin Gazette. To view original articles in full online subscribe to WDG here.
Koo Wee Rup v Phillip Island match review written by Russell Bennett reporting for Pakenham Gazette. To view original article in full online subscribe to PG here.
Korumburra-Bena v Inverloch-Kongwak match review published by The Great Southern Star. To view original article in full online subscribe to TGSS here.
Kilcunda-Bass v Dalyston match review published by South Gippsland Sentinel Times. To view original article in full online subscribe to SGST here.