Six games, six things we learned from round six of Victoria’s number one local football league
1) Seagulls break hoodoo
When casting an eye over round six, it is hard to look past North Shore and their drought breaking victory over South Barwon. Not since 2005 had the Seagulls beaten the Swans, and seventeen long matches had come and gone in between that time. Yet for North Shore, toppling the Swans by 32-points had much bigger ramifications than just putting some South Barwon demons to bed. The Seagulls have now won as many games this season (three) as they have in the past two seasons, and now sit at an even keel in sixth position, a game off Leopold in fifth. Its reward for Jason Davenport’s maturing men, who have gone through some tough seasons that are now bearing fruit. A winnable block of games are coming up too, with fixtures against Newtown, St Albans and Geelong West over the next month.
2) Woody creates a
Toy Tall Story
Another close fought victory in the dying moments for Colac in consecutive weeks, and have veteran Travis Woodmason to thank. Trailing at ¾ time to Bell Park at home, Colac gritted their teeth and scraped home, with the winner kicked by their loveable veteran, to get home by four slender points following last week’s thriller against South Barwon. It was the evergreen Woodmason’s second goal for the afternoon, and vitally moved the Tigers into third spot on the ladder. Woodmason is part of a small crop of senior players ushering youngsters through what has been a quick rejuvenation this season after the departure of maiden Premiership coach Paul Lynch to Ocean Grove, and now have only lost one game in their opening six contests.
3) Towners heading in the right direction
It is good for the GFL to see teams who weren’t seen as a threat this season, like the aforementioned Colac and North Shore to be competing and challenging so well, and we can add Newtown to that list too. While finals are off the agenda for the young Eagles, they are more than holding their own. Saturday’s 17-point loss to reigning Premier Leopold was another sign Damien McMahon’s group is going to be a good one. On top of defeating South Barwon and Grovedale last week, Newtown were unlucky against both Bell Park in round 3 and Colac a week later, going down in close contests. Saturday followed that trend, with the young side surrendering a 5-point ¾ time lead, but there’s plenty to take out. There were around 20 unavailable players on the weekend, including Rob Condy, Cam Fowler and Lachie McCartney. There is more than 40 first, second and third year players through the Eagles list, and they stood up on Saturday again with Harry Dalton snaring another three goals, while Alex Cincotta, Mitch Diamond and Jesse Malthouse impressed again.
4) Functioning Forward line
St Joseph’s didn’t rest on the laurels, picking up where they left off last week in a 159-point dismantling of St Albans. For the second week in a row, the Joeys had an incredible thirteen individual goal kickers. Rhys Hultgren snared a career best with seven majors, and Cam Tudor, Joe Macula, Luke Webb, Ben Maloney and Pat Kelleher were the other multiple goal kickers. What will please coach Heath Jamieson is not only the spread of goal kickers, but how they are all working as a unit. Hultgren and Coburg recruit Lech Featherstone are the key posts, and the latter has not even fully fired yet. Despite having 14 goals to his name, Featherstone did kick ten in one outing against Geelong West. The emergence of Tom Denning in the ruck has allowed Cam Tudor to play more down forward, and the luxury of having Joe Macula, Riley Ferguson, Kieren Paliouras and Brant Haintz to float through midfield and attack is a treat. Not to mention the crumbers in Webb, McLachlan and Kelleher, there is no shortage of options at Drew Reserve.
5) A not so functioning forward line
Grovedale are the polar opposite of St Joeys in their forward half, a side the Tigers beat in last year’s semifinal. How long ago that must feel for Grovedale. A dysfunctional forward line truncated their afternoon during their 33-point loss to St Mary’s on Saturday which leaves them 2-4. Coach Craig McCaughan lamented his side’s renewed attacking vigor in the final term when the game was all but over, but were unable to break past Ben Dobson who sat himself behind the footy and picked up possessions at will. McCaughan said they put a man on Dobson, but being live at the game, we would like to know who that was as it appeared he had no opposition. Jordan Erskine has 20 goals for the year, but only 6 in his last three games. Do we know Cam Delaney’s best position? He is good in the air down forward but does he switch between attack and defense too often. And what about brother Luke? Starting Tiger life as a forward, he and Jordan Erskine didn’t seem to gel. So where does that leave the former Saint with Jordan Harrison doing so well at full back? Even the arrival of North Ballarat product Jacob Cooke-Harrison couldn’t lift the Tigers forward half. McCaughan’s coaching staff has plenty to mull over. Small forward Gryan Miers was a big part of their strong finals campaign last year, but is unavailable due to starring this year for the Geelong Falcons. They lack a point of difference down forward, Adam Donohue perhaps?
6) Moreland stands up
Geelong West faced Lara on Saturday, nervous at the fact that this is a game in the past they may have struggled to get their way out of. The potential curveball was blown out of the water however by superstar Chris Moreland, who kicked seven goals to take apart the bottom-placed Cats by 67-points. An eight goal third term killed off the game as a contest, with Moreland at the forefront of just about everything. When your side needs to make a stand, you look to your stars, and Moreland delivered for his side once more. The Giants have now won two games, and while sitting in 10th place on the ladder may not seem great in isolation, they are only percentage behind Grovedale, Newtown and South Barwon.
*NB- The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of AFL Barwon or its clubs