GORDON THE REAL DEAL
After two seasons of threatening Ballan took a major step towards becoming a legitimate finals participant when they inflicted Waubra’s first defeat for the season last Saturday.
Coach Mark Williams had implored a supreme effort from his charges in the lead up to this match knowing that another loss to a side above them would make it all the harder for the Blues to be competitive in finals action.
Then he took the lead on the field as well being their best player and providing the elusiveness which he has been known for throughout his career. Coming along for the ride with an improved performance was Marcus Crook who after a good start to the season in his new league had lost momentum for the past couple of months.
Crook and David Ismail were instrumental in keep Waubra out of the game and Zac Peoples and Daniel King provided just enough effectiveness up forward to get home by a comfortable 24 points. This win gives them a very handy two game break ahead of ninth placed Creswick who did all they could to close the gap by defeating Rokewood Corindhap. Waubra appeared to lack the ability to find a forward who could give them the impetus to challenge Ballan.
Over the past three games Mark Nunn and Tim Boyle had been the primary targets for the Kangaroos kicking 16 goals between them but both were out on Saturday and they had insufficient others who replaced their productivity. Benn Pigdon was the only multiple goal scorer and his three almost tallied half of their total of just seven majors.
This loss has dropped Waubra down a couple of spotson the ladder to fourth but still only half a game behind the new ladder leader Gordon. Gordon moved decisively from forth into the ladder lead through inflicting the first defeat on the only other undefeated side until this week in Beaufort. The 22 point win to the Eagles was comfortable but not without its tremors as they had lost the lead by three quarter time and required a four goal last quarter to overcome a determined Beaufort. It was Gordon’s strong bodied players who were the keys in matching it with similarly shaped Crows outfit; Mark Gunnell, Tye Murphy and Steve Patterson gave the strength around the contest which is required to succeed in the big matches. Beaufort has been a miserly defensive unit so far this season and they were able continue this trend with Jacob Garvey and Christopher Drew in particularly maintaining their excellent form. Scott Howard also returned to seniors for just the second time and immediately had an impact. His height and strength will be a bonus whenever he is available. Neither Gordon nor Beaufort can sit back and recover for long with vital matches this week against other top eight sides. Beaufort has to face Buninyong under the mount this week and a second loss could see them drop from top to seventh spot in the space of two weeks.
Buninyong had to battle hard for its own victory on Saturday overcoming Dunnstown by just nine points.
In the last three weeks the Towner’s have challenged Gordon, Beaufort and now the Bombers but close losses still sees them on just the four wins for the season. However these performances indicate that they are very nearly the equal of any team in the eight.
If the results for Beaufort and Buninyong in the past two weeks against Dunnstown are any indicator the clash at Buninyong should be a close encounter which will thrill the crowds. Buninyong has been able to build a very strong home ground following in recent years and this crowd support might be worth an added player if the game is going down to the wire on Saturday.
A steady contribution from across the whole of the ground by Buninyong was evident against Dunnstown. Ned Gilbert, Beau Guest and Nick Shell all had strong matches as did premier ruckman Anthony Ebery. It might be the clash between Ebery and Beaufort’s Howard which is crucial this week as the ruckman who can give his team first use around the stoppages might create enough scoring opportunities in a close match. Gordon meanwhile will have its hands full dealing with its nearest neighbour Springbank in the Jimmy Toohey Trophy clash. Springbank easily managed to brush aside Daylesford but the highlight for the Tigers was the form of Nic Couch who had his best return in the three matches he has played this season. Couch last year played 17 games for the North Ballarat Roosters and remains on their list but is returning from a serious knee injury and is attempting to get back to the level of fitness which he enjoyed last season. If he continues his return to form Springbank might not be able to enjoy too many more games with him in the side until finals action comes around. The depth of both Gordon and Springbank are clear strengths in their success to this point of the season and either team has the ability to make this year a premiership return.
Playing this week at Gordon will probably not suit either side which appeal as better big ground performers. The advantage of knowing the tight confines of the venue might give Gordon enough of an advantage to retain top spot. Skipton were able to celebrate their second win of the season by three goals over Clunes who will be rueing their inconsistency after defeating Newlyn in round 9.
This win will give Skipton a great deal of confidence to repeat the effort this week when they travel to face the struggling Learmonth. On the results of the past two weeks Learmonth shape as performing at about the same level as Clunes which puts Skipton right in the frame of moving past the Lakies on the ladder. Crucial Learmonth on baller Brenton Powell is probably still one week away from returning from a broken hand and without his leadership and ball winning strength they will be hard pressed to be able to withstand an eager Emus outfit. Hepburn will need to be at their best to withstand the form of Dunnstown, Ballan will overcome Carngham Linton, Waubra will bounce back from their first defeat at the expense of Clunes and Daylesford may upset Newlyn, Creswick and Bungaree will be too strong for Smythesdale and Rokewood Corindhap respectively.