Late surge saves the Seagulls

Exciting left-footer Logan Downe provided some third-quarter spark for the Seagulls. 406511 Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS

By David Nagel

Tooradin-Dalmore has returned to the familiar surroundings of the top-six in the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition after the Seagulls survived a brave battle from Kooweerup on Saturday.

The Gulls fell 10 points behind, 11 minutes into the third term, but rallied with seven of the last nine goals to record a 10.15(75) to 8.7(55) victory at the Tooradin Recreation Reserve.

Kooweerup had only won one of its four games heading into this contest, but the Demons came in confident after a last-quarter burst saw them fall just short of third-placed Kilcunda-Bass at Denhams Road last week.

And when skipper Nathan Voss called correctly and kicked with the aid of a strong breeze – blowing to the social club end of the ground – the Demons had the perfect platform to build on.

The early signs weren’t great for the Demons, with the Seagulls moving the ball beautifully into the breeze to chalk up the opening goal of the contest.

Midfielder Brad Butler linked nicely with small forward Brett Coffey, who found Stewie Scanlon on the lead; and the Gulls were off to a flyer.

Tooradin coach Jordan Kelly would have been happy with his team’s defence in the opening stanza, but the Demons persisted and two late goals gave them a four-point lead at quarter time.

Voss first set the example with a strong tackle inside forward 50, with Blake Peach making the most of the advantage rule, before a Brodie Yapp clearance from the resultant centre bounce; landed in the lap of Voss for another.

Tooradin then looked set to kick clear of the Demons with two goals in the opening eight minutes of the second term.

Butler once again turned provider, finding Cooper Shipp – who had moved from defence to attack – before Cooper Bassett kicked truly after putting his head over the ball and receiving a head-high free kick.

The Gulls led by nine points, with roughly 20 minutes remaining to make the most of the wind at their backs.

A three-to-four lead at the major interval looked likely.

But any thought of an easy afternoon at the office was soon made redundant when Bailey Galante answered after a high-tackle from Luke McKenna.

The Seagulls led by two points, but kicked six points from six scoring shots to lead by eight points at the major break.

Butler, Matt Buntine, Lewis Hill and Tim Lenders were providing a nice balance through the middle, while McKenna, Brad Lenders and Adam Oxley were keeping a close eye on the dangerous Nathan Voss.

But Kooweerup came out of the blocks firing in the third quarter, with Peach, Matt Voss and Bailey Galante getting on top in the midfield.

Peach was particularly influential, proving strong and unrelenting around the contest.

Nathan Voss gave Shipp the slip to kick the first of the third quarter, before Caleb Milojevic gave the Demons back the lead with a pick-up and snap after 10 minutes of play.

Peach then kicked a ripper on the run, after quick hands from coach Dale Alanis, and the Demons had kicked out to that game-high 10-point lead.

The Seagulls needed a steadier, and 14 minutes into the third it came from the right-foot of the dangerous Charlie Shinners.

The classy right-footer then made the most of some dashing run-and-carry from Logan Downe – kicking his second in four minutes – to give the Gulls a two-point buffer.

But a late goal from Nathan Voss – his third – gave the Demons a five-point advantage with a quarter left to play.

Butler started in the ruck for the Seagulls in the last quarter, while Matt Buntine was injected more into centre bounce than his customary position on the wing.

Both players had a huge influence on the final outcome.

Buntine started to find the footy, putting his smarts to good use, and gave the Seagulls back the lead with a classy finish just four minutes into the final term.

The explosive Butler then let one fly from 50; kicking the margin out to seven with the clock saying six minutes had ticked by.

Tooradin hasn’t played anywhere near its best footy this season, but several of its stars reconvened to send a reminder message to the competition.

The strength of Piva Wright set Shinners up for his third, and when Oxley launched one from 45 the Gulls had kicked 19 points clear at the 14-minute mark of the last.

Buntine, Butler, Wright and Oxley; the Seagulls stars, were delivering when it mattered most!

Scanlon then kicked his second, after a reversed free kick, as the Demons’ frustrations started to intensify.

The 26-point gap was cut to 20 at the final siren after Luke McMaster gave the Demons their only goal of the final term.

Shinners finished with three, and Scanlon two for the winners, who will make it four in a row when they head to a battling Bunyip this week.

It’s then home for a tricky-test against Dalyston, before a round-eight trip to Inverloch gives us a clear indication of where the Seagulls truly sit this year.

Gut feel would suggest they’re a fair-way off the mark, but the class of the aforementioned group of players will fill Kelly with confidence that his team can still make some inroads this year.

As for the Demons, well they’re one-and-four now with the dream of ending a 43-year premiership drought once again up in flames.

They host Phillip Island this week, and then are away to Warragul Industrials, before welcoming Cora Lynn to Denhams Road in round eight.

Some mid-season relief should then come its way with consecutive games against Korumburra-Bena, Bunyip and Garfield.

Skipper Voss ended with three for the Demons on Saturday, while his brother Matt, Peach and classy defender Tim Miller were among the teams best players.