by Matt Fotia
Wandin’s 10 point victory over the Berwick Football Club was two or three months in the making according to senior coach Nick Adam, after the Dogs out gunned the Wickers in a high scoring thriller thanks to six from big name recruit Daniel Gorringe.
Throughout the summer months, the ‘Valley’ clubs were met with constant hype about the powerhouse South East clubs that were soon to become their opponents.
So as the season approached Wandin’s first year coach decided to address the elephant in the room rather than let it grow to a dangerous size.
“We talked about the fact they (South East clubs) were expected to dominate across the back end of the summer and we wanted to be on the front foot,”
“There is plenty of pride coming out of the Yarra Valley and we’d had just about enough of the talk about the South East clubs.”
The Dogs certainly played with plenty of pride on Sunday. In front of a crowd that many Wandin stalwarts described as ‘the biggest we’ve seen’ Adam’s outfit slammed home 22 majors to win a match that was played at break-neck speed.
It was a great advertisement not only for the new competition, but local football in general as the game included 41 goals, five more than the two AFL games played on the same day combined.
“It was a great game of footy that just went back and forth all day – I’d say the defensive coaches weren’t quite as pleased as me though,” says Adam – the Dogs have continued where they left off in 2018, when they scored well over 2000 points for the year.
“We played our brand really well and we were able to limit what they wanted to do.”
Berwick intercept king William Arthurson started the game as he’d finished the previous week against Narre Warren, but his influence was negated after the first change when the Dogs sent Patrick Hodgett (two goals) to play a defensive forward role on the Wicker’s half back.
Adam believes that the Dogs home track is conducive to high scoring affairs due to the ease at which teams can score from stoppages – due to the smaller confides of the ground.
This caught out the Berwick defence who were unable to stop the Dogs getting deep entries.
However to do that, Wandin had to win the midfield battle against the likes of Andrews, Asher and Tuck.
“No doubt that their midfielders have a big reputation but we are pretty adamant that the midfield is one of strengths too,”
“Rohan Heasley is a serious player, Pat Bruzzese was awarded best on ground in the Interleague match last year as an 18 year old and John Ladner is as underrated as anyone,”
“There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to take it up to them.”
Wandin’s intensity around the football was noticeable, their midfield alone laying 43 tackles.
Adam accredits most of these to the aforementioned Ladner and Harrison Byrne who are ‘good Wandin people’. He also gave a shout out to Daniel Bailey, who proved himself well across the Bulldogs half back line.
Bailey won the club’s Reserve’s best and fairest last season as a midfielder, but with limited spots in the Dogs midfield he retrained over the summer to find a spot in the senior backline.
He was named the Dogs fifth best on Sunday.
The star of the show however was their prized recruit Daniel Gorringe who kicked six goals, took multiple marks and shared ruck duties with Michael Fowkes. The former top 10 draft pick crossed over to Wandin during the off-season from Eastern Football League outfit Park Orchards.
‘I’ve been so proud of the way Daniel has carried himself this whole off-season/pre-season and on the weekend he absolutely exceeded our expectations.”
Now is no time for the Dogs to rest of their laurels. Adam is well and truly focused on next weekends Yarra Ranges Grand Final rematch against Woori Yallock and is confident his side will be able to repeat Sundays performance when they travel to Edwin Flack Reserve later in the season for the return leg against Berwick.
“I’m excited to see all of our big forwards (Gorringe, Van Unen, Johnston, Fowkes) on the bigger grounds,”
“They draw so much footy that they end up being in each other’s space so it’s particularly exciting to see Justin (Van Unen) on the big ground as he’ll have so much more space to operate in,”
“We get plenty of entries, so with those blokes down forward I think we will be held in pretty good stead.”