by Matt Fotia
Wow – what a way to welcome in the new season, as the AFL Outer East was full of upsets, shootouts, great individual performances and even better team ones during it’s first (full) round. If you don’t have time to go through it all by yourself, you’ve come to the right spot, it’s the AFL Outer East Footy Review.
Wandin showed the might of the Valley when it claimed a 10 point victory over Berwick at the Kennel yesterday afternoon. The end to end game suited the Dogs run and gun style as the game saw goals from start to finish.
Berwick’s half back line of Arthurson, Hillard and Smith were caught out on occasion with the shortness of the Wandin home track, not being able to define ‘the hole’. If they sat too deep the Dogs midfielders were able to run closer to goal and have a shot themselves, and if they pushed up too high they left space for Gorringe, Van Unen and Johnston who combined for 11 majors.
That’s not to say Berwick were completely outclassed. Of course as the scoreboard suggested the game had ebbs and flows, and for periods the Wickers showed their class with the run of outside players Thomas, Bergman and Morris combining well with the inside bulls Andrews, Tuck and Asher. Harrison Money once again kicked a bag, and had he had kicked as accurately as his Wandin counterpart Gorringe, Berwick could’ve been victorious.
And whilst most of the post-mortems will focus on the forwards kicking goals at either end of this shootout, a special mention must go to Wandin’s John Ladner. Not always the first name mentioned when you talk about the Dogs, Ladner was far and away their best midfielder, laying well over ten tackles, swinging into defence late on and kicking two goals in a minute during the decisive third quarter.
If the ‘crossover’ games continue in this way it’s going to be an exciting year.
2. Lions roar
When talking about the South East clubs throughout pre-season, most of the attention has been around heaped upon Berwick and Narre Warren in the Premier Division and in Division One Doveton and Officer. Maybe this was down to the constant recruiting of the Doves and the strong social media game of the Roos. But on Saturday evening Pakenham took their chance to grab the spotlight with both hands.
Emerald themselves have been active throughout the off-season and hopes are high for the Bombers in 2019, however a complete shut-out from the Lions will see Jamie Marshall going back to the drawing board.
The Bombers were able to compete with the Lions through the middle and had their fair share of the possession but their attacks often fell away across the half forward line, with the big open spaces at the Lions Den highlighting the need for links between the midfield and the deep forwards. The Bombers were allowed just one goal per half and managed just seven scoring shots for the game.
The Lions next face Officer who are yet to play. Maybe now after their opening victory we’ll be keeping an eye on the whats going on at the Lions den.
3. Even Stevens
Throughout the off-season the general consensus was that Division One would be the tightest division. All the sides hadn’t made finals a lot in passing times and none of them other than Belgrave and Emerald (Division Two) had won premierships in recent memory.
But in the aftermath of Saturdays action a new contender for the most even division has emerged – Division Two.
Much fancied Gembrook-Cockatoo were defeated by 27 points on their home patch by Kinglake with new senior coach Andrew Fairchild slotting four majors, whilst Powelltown well and truly celebrated their 30 year premiership anniversary with a massive win over local rivals and reigning premiers Yarra Junction despite star recruit David Johnson booting four goals for the Eagles – Ben Wratten and Matthew Lord doing the heavy lifting there for the Demons.
Meanwhile it may have been a 96 point loss for Thornton Eildon, but it would give the Shinboner faithful a fair bit of hope as the new look out fit kicked eight goals against last seasons preliminary finalists Yarra Glen.
I’m willing to sweep Yea’s performance under the rug. The Blues were always going to come out swinging after the way 2018 finished – the Tigers were the unlucky side waiting in front of them. Ex Tiger Paddy Ratray booting nine didn’t help either.
Division Two looks like it’s going to be fun to watch, with Round Two clashes (Yarra Junction v Gembrook-Cockatoo and Seville v Powelltown) leaving us wanting more.