By David Nagel
Tooradin has claimed back-to-back victories for the first time in nearly three years after the Seagulls dug deep to grind out a 29-point victory over Doveton at Robinson Oval.
The Seagulls – who have triumphed over the Doves just twice in their previous 23 encounters – were up for the fight against the Doves, who were proud and passionate with club stalwart Ryan Hendy playing his 250th senior game.
And it was a Doveton team that gained a significant boost early with Hendy’s cousin, first gamer Ricky Johnson, electrifying the crowd with an exciting six-pointer. Milan Mandic then marked and goaled and the Doves were off to a flyer.
But the Seagulls were out to make a statement and showed true grit, cutting the margin to eight at quarter time and taking a two-point advantage to the main break. They had the better of the third term and took a 15-point advantage into the last period of play.
The Seagulls had some match-winners in the final quarter.
Andrew Dean kicked an early goal; Fabio Dilizia struck with two more, while a massive hit from Nick Lang on Harley Primrose showed the Gulls were not to be bossed around.
And it really sunk in when a desperate Justin Smaluch, caught one-on-one with the pacy Clayton McCartney, refused to buckle, his fingertip tackle forcing McCartney’s kick, and Doveton’s last challenge, wide of the target.
Dilizia finished with four for the Gulls, and Dean three, while Lang was joined by Andrew Proctor and Matt Livermore in a commanding midfield performance.
Doveton, well they need to take stock.
They had a barely manageable eight changes heading in, with key performers like Russ Gabriel, Shannon Henwood, Matt Jameson, Alwyn Davey and Jake Blackwood absent on the day.
Frank D’Agostino was a fine replacement for Gabriel in the ruck while Sam Raru and Lachie Batten were serviceable through the midfield.
They call him ‘Cyril’ down Cranbourne way and livewire forward Khaled Kandakji certainly lived up to that billing with a devastating last-quarter burst against Narre Warren at Casey Fields.
Held quiet for three quarters, Kandakji turned on the magic tricks with four last-quarter goals in the Eagles 52-point victory that basically assures a double-chance come finals time.
The Eagles have built their reputation this season on finishing strongly -and that’s exactly what they did in the final term, kicking 8.2 to 1.2 to blow the margin out late.
Kandakji may have taken the plaudits in the final term, but the grunt-work of Ryan Davey was instrumental in the clinches, setting up runners like Aaron Bower, Jake Carosella and Dylan Cavalot to inflict maximum damage in the final term.
Narre skipper Dylan Quirk was at his industrious best in the middle of the ground.
Pakenham supporters can finally shout from the roof tops after the Lions scored their first win of the season, an emphatic 96-point victory over a disappointing Hampton Park at Toomuc Reserve.
Despite six consecutive losses the Lions had shown improved form in recent times and overcame some inaccurate kicking at goal to run away with the contest through the middle stages of the match.
The Lions kicked 3.7 to no score in the opening term and rammed home their advantage as the afternoon wore on.
Jake Smith kicked five for the Lions and Steve Morey three, while Chris Cardona, Jarrod Theisz and Steve O’Bryan were critical to the Lions’ success. Tim Ziegeler kicked two for the Redbacks.
And a successful trip to Tooradin is all that stands between Berwick and a perfect first half of the season after the Wickers scored a solid 23-point victory over Officer at Edwin Flack Reserve.
The Wickers dominated the early exchanges, kicking the first four goals of the match before the Kangaroos settled down after last week’s bye.
In-form forwards Brody Connelly and Trent Thomas slotted three each for the winners while Brad Phillips and Dylan Chapman fared best for the Kangaroos.
Beaconsfield had the bye.