By Jeremy Richards
It was a dog of a day at the office for Traralgon Tyers United in round two of the AGL Loy Yang North Gippsland Football Netball League.
In a dogged performance, Sale City held its nerve at the crucial stages of the dog-eat-dog encounter to pip the Bombers at the post, 8.18.66 to 8.8.56.
The win put Sale City at the top of the NGFNL ladder with a very healthy percentage, ahead of Woodside and Rosedale who also have two wins from the first two games.
The Bulldogs’ form looks set to continue when they host Churchill, who were defeated last week at the hands of Heyfield.
In a gritty arm-wrestle in which neither side dominated convincingly until the last five minutes of the match, Sale City managed to hold its nerve in the time-on period of the final quarter and score the last two goals of the game to claim victory.
“We’ve been working a lot on our game plan,” assistant coach Matt Luzti said.
“Tackling is an important part of that and (senior coach) David Piasente has really instilled that kind of toughness into all of our players. We’ve really tried to concentrate getting the one-percenters right.”
When asked who made the most important contribution to Saturday’s win Luzti said it was “really pleasing to see the way our midfielders moved the ball quickly”.
Neither team was clearly able to gain the ascendency in the opening quarter.
Fierce tackling and good solid defensive structures at both ends of the ground kept both teams locked in a gruelling stalemate.
Both teams had chances and blazed away at the big sticks, but most efforts were hampered by inaccurate kicking into a swirly breeze.
At the 12-minute mark Matt Stolarczyk took a strong mark but failed to capitalize with the subsequent kick for goal.
TTU tried to play a possessive brand of football, rather than going directly to their forwards, which probably cost them two or three goals.
Thomas Wilson took a strong grab at the 22-minute mark, but failed to convert from 50 metres directly in front.
It wasn’t until after the siren that the first goal was scored, when TTU’s Chase Saunders kicked truly from 30 metres out on a 45 degree angle, giving the bombers a three-point buffer going into the first huddle.
Three minutes into the second term Saunders goaled again and when Dalton Tripodi slotted another at the 10-minute mark, the Bombers had skipped to a 16-point break.
However, at the 15-minute mark, Jake Milham was able to put the first goal on the board for Sale City, and the margin was reduced to within two straight kicks.
Lincoln Albenese countered with a strong grab and when he went back and put TTU’s fourth on the board, the Bombers looked to have all the answers.
Late goals from Tom Wilson and Jacob Schuback eroded the Bombers lead, but a third goal to Saunders ensured the Bombers hung on to an eight-point lead at the main break.
The premiership quarter was a tight struggle and when Beau Bennett nailed one at the five-minute mark the doggies were within a kick.
The scoreboard pressure spurred Sale City on and the Bulldogs began to lift their work rate.
The visitors kept peppering the big sticks, but an unyielding TTU defence forced them wide and unable to consolidate their forward momentum.
At the other end it was a different story.
Saunders kicked his fourth at the 15-minute mark and looked in match winning form.
A minute later, however, a questionable free kick was awarded to Schuback for holding, 15 metres out directly in front, and when he converted the Dogs lea by two points.
Five minutes later Schuback had an opportunity to extend Sale City’s lead when he took a courageous mark on the paint of 50, but failed to capitalise; the Dogs going into the three-quarter-time huddle with a one-point lead.
At the start of the fourth quarter neither team looked to have the ascendency.
10 minutes in, Saunders marked and kicked his fifth for the game in stunning fashion and when City’s Tom Bowman was penalised for overstepping the mark, TTU managed to string a couple together and take an 11-point lead.
When Saunders marked and was awarded a 50 metre penalty after a Bulldogs player back-chatted the umpire, he was within range and looked set to kick his sixth and possibly take TTU to a match winning 17-point lead.
However, the kick skewed-off behind the stick in the swirly breeze.
A second goal to Milham at the 25 minute mark reduced TTU’s lead to just two points and it was anyone’s game from there.
In a nail-biting finish that could have gone either way, Sale City managed to kick the last two goals of the game in time-on to secure a 10-point victory and top spot on the NGFNL ladder.
Churchill v Heyfield
Heyfield bounced back from its round one loss to Rosedale with a convincing win over the Churchill.
In a fairly evenly poised first quarter, Heyfield managed to secure an 11-point lead.
However, a six-goal-to-four second quarter helped the Cougars go into the main break with a five-point lead.
Heyfield dominated the third term, booting six goals to the Cougars’ three, giving the Roos a handy 17-point lead at three-quarter-time.
A-three-goal-to-one final quarter led the Kangaroos to a comfortable 33-point victory, 17.17 (119) to 13.8 (86).
The main goal kickers for Heyfield were Kodie Woodland and Joel Dinsdale with four apiece while for Churchill, Justin Rogers and Allan Chandler both kicked four.
Best players for Heyfield were Shaun Humphreys, Woodland and Jesse Jackway, while for Churchill the best players were Rogers, Chris Williams and Ben Skinner.
Cowwarr v Woodside
A combined all round effort from the Woodside forward line steered the Wildcats to a comfortable 49-point victory over Cowwarr at Cowwarr.
The Wildcats’ second win of the season kept them in second place on the NGFNL ladder by percentage and a win over Gormandale next week would put them 3-0, making it Woodside’s best start to an NGFNL season.
Woodside led by 11 points at quarter time and by half time that lead was extended to 32.
The third quarter was a rout; Woodside kicking seven goals to one to lead by 70 points at three-quarter-time.
But in a stunning reversal of form, the Saints managed to salvage something from the wreck and kick seven goals to three, putting some respectability on the scoreboard.
It wasn’t enough though, with Woodside running out a comfortable winner, 16.16 (112) to 10.3 (63).
The main goal kickers for Heyfield were Adrian Fazioli (four), and Ryan Foat (three), while for Cowwarr Bradley McBride kicked four.
Best players for Woodside were Hank Norman, Fazioli and CameronWhiteoak, while for Cowwarr the best players were Marcus Twomey, Shane Morgan and McBride.
Yarram v Rosedale
It was exciting to see Yarram show some pluck after their round one loss to Woodside.
The Demons went all the way to the wire with Rosedale, but in the end were outclassed by the reigning premier by an extraordinarily slender margin.
It goes to prove the evenness of the NGFNL this year and that any team can win on any given day.
The Demons got out of the blocks well, going to the quarter time huddle with a 17-point lead and to the half time break leading by 15.
Four goals to one in the premiership quarter though, enabled Rosedale take a two-point lead at three-quarter-time.
The Blues managed to hang on in a nail-biter, 11.11 (77) to 10.15 (75).
The main goal kickers for Rosedale were Brandon McDonald (four) and Dale Fleming (two), while for Yarram Corbin Sutherland kicked three and Griffin Underwood kicked two.
Best players for Rosedale were Sam Tudor, Ryan Jacobsen and Rohan Diamond, while for Yarram the best players were Underwood, Jarryd Swift and Louis Rodaughan.
Glengarry v Gormandale
In the big Sunday clash, Glengarry claimed its first win since round 19, 2014, scraping over the line by four points against Gormandale.
After a nine-goal-to-nil first quarter to put the Magpies in front by 57 points at the first break, Gormandale chipped away at Glengarry’s lead and-seven-goal-to-one second quarter kept the Tigers in touch by half time.
The third quarter was even-Stevens and in another thrilling finish for round two, the Magpies eventually prevailed by four points, 18.8 (116) to Gormandale 16.16 (112).
Ben Britten and Dylan de Hommel booted four goals apiece for Glengarry, with Leigh O’Mara and Jack Jenkins among the Magpies’ best.
Jordan Sandy finished with four goals for Gormandale and was joined in the Tigers’ best by Joshua Kurrle and Justin Fulton.
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