STORM CEMENTS TOP SPOT WITH BIG WIN OVER HAWKS
UNBEATEN Strathfieldsaye consolidated top spot on the BFNL ladder with a 51-point victory over struggling Eaglehawk at Flight Centre Park in Tannery Lane on Saturday.
But the final margin does not do justice to the tough battle the Hawks put up.
Perhaps sensing their 2012 season was slipping away, Eaglehawk was super competitive in the first half.
They drilled four second quarter majors to Strathfieldsaye’s one.
The Storm led by just four points at half-time and again by less than a goal when spearhead Matt Gretgrix converted at the Tannery Lane end early in the third term.
Then Strathfieldsaye surged with majors to skipper Shannon Geary, Sam Mildren and Kris Lea to snatch a 20-point buffer at the last change.
Nine final quarter goals to four from the Storm emphasised the gulf between the two clubs with Jake Hall, Kellan Smith, Geary and Jacob Heavyside finishing full of run.
Final scores: Strathfieldsaye 19.9 (123) Eaglehawk 11.6 (72).
Eaglehawk suffered two serious injuries in the opening term. On-baller Ryan Threlfall was taken by ambulance to hospital early on with a dislocated shoulder.
And key defender Luke Button (kick to the lower back) took no further part in the game after quarter-time.
With just two interchange options available to him, coach Luke Monaghan had to re-shuffle his defence. Button had started on Sam Mildren, who finished with five goals, so Darcy Richards was switched onto Mildren.
Brad Stringer was moved to centre half-back, and was a consistent contributor all day.
The Storm bounced out of the blocks with five goals to two in the opening term. Key forward Tom Bartholomew drilled the first of four majors for the day after taking a Lachlan Sharp pass.
Then Sharp (also four for the afternoon) capitalized on an Eaglehawk turnover to snap truly from wide out on a flank, Sheepwash Creek end.
Again unsure in the back half the Hawks were made to pay when ace midfielder Hall scored with a high, floating rainmaker, his first of a trio of six-pointers.
But the Hawks were supreme in the second term. With skipper Josh Bowe and Jarrod Findlay starting many attacks, Eaglehawk added 4.2 to the Storm’s 1.4.
Bowe nailed a fine goal with a snap across his body, Gretgrix bagged a couple and Tyson Findlay steered through a top, set shot from wide out on the boundary line.
After the Hawks had again closed the margin to four points early in the third quarter, Strathfieldsaye then banged home 12 goals to the Hawks’ four to close out the match.
Mildren and Sharp took over in the Storm front half fed by Hall, Heavyside, Callum Brady and Lachlan Bonney.
The last quarter developed into a 13-goal shootout with Strathfieldsaye adding nine majors to the Hawks’ four.
Eaglehawk coach Luke Monaghan said it was becoming a pattern for Eaglehawk to be right in games, but not being able to get the results.
“Strath was able to spread, get control in the middle and outrun us in the last quarter,” he said.”
“We’ve been playing well in patches, but having three good quarters or two-and-a-half good quarters against quality opposition isn’t going to win you games,” Monaghan said.
Storm coach Darryl Wilson said his team had been running games out.
“Our midfielders’ contested ball and defensive work in the last quarter smashed (the count in) our first thee quarters,” he said.
Wilson said the contributions from locally-based Strathfieldsaye players such as Brady, Heavyside, Bonney and Kellan Smith had been enormous and with them stepping up in 2012 the team had really benefitted.
Strathfieldsaye 5.3 6.7 10.8 19.9 (123)
Eaglehawk 2.1 6.3 7.6 11.6 (72)
GOALS – Strath: Sam Mildren 5, Tom Bartholomew 4, Lachlan Sharp 4, Jake Hall 3, Kris Lea 2, Shannon Geary. Eaglehawk: M. Gretgrix 4, Eamon Costello 2, Riley McIvor, Josh Bowe, Jarrod Findlay, Tim Nicholson, Tyson Findlay.
BEST – Strath: Jake Hall (best on ground), Kellan Smith, Shannon Geary, Jacob Heavyside, Lachlan Bonney, Callum Brady, Sam Mildren. Eaglehawk: Josh Bowe, Brad Stringer, Tim Hill, Jarrod Findlay, Tim Nicholson, Callum Harrington.
5: Jake Hall (Strath)
4: Kellan Smith (Strath)
3: Josh Bowe (E’hawk)
2: Shannon Geary (Strath)
1: Brad Stringer (E’hawk)