STRATHFIELDSAYE rebounded from a poor Easter performance with a 124-point demolition of an outclassed Castlemaine in Anzac Day’s Camp Reserve clash.
With ex-St Kilda goalsneak Stephen Milne booting seven majors and coach Darryl Wilson having the luxury of rotating key defenders into the forward half, the match was a contest for the first quarter only.
Final scores: Strathfieldsaye 21.17 (143), Castlemaine 2.7 (19).
The Magpies booted their only two goals for the day – to Matt Conboy and Tallan Wright – in the opening term to trail by eight points at the first change.
The Pies were able to bottle up Storm’s run and keep the ball locked into ground level contests.
But as soon as the Storm runners got going and away from the congestion with Matt Ladson, Nick Smith and Kellan Smith prominent and their teammates – particularly Jake Hall – able to spread wide, the Magpies were cooked.
Michael Pilcher controlled the ruck battles. Castlemaine did not add a single point to their scoreline in either the second or the third quarters.
And just five points were added in the final term at the pavilion end.
The Storm banged home five goals in each of the second and third terms and eight in the last. Matthew Johnston found targets with his accurate passes and booted a fine second quarter goal from the scoreboard pocket.
Big forward Kris Lea and midfielder Sean Johns both nailed three goals for the day while skipper Shannon Geary, resuming from injury, slotted two.
Wilson said there were a couple of reasons to move normal defenders such as Ash Trollop and Jayden Donaldson into attacking roles.
“The ball wasn’t going down their end all that much so we thought we would get a little bit of rotation going.
“Plus we’re a little bit underdone compared to other clubs. We started four weeks behind everyone else because of playing in the grand final last year.
“So from a fitness point of view we’re not quite where we want to be. Today gave us an opportunity to run players through the forward line.”
Donaldson made the most of his time up forward. He drilled two goals, the first coming from a great 50m set shot from wide out on the pressbox flank.
Wilson said he and his match committee were delighted with the work former St Kilda run-with player Steven Baker got through.
“We thought his defensive pressure was superb. Just to see what he does off the ball is great and when he kicked that (last quarter) goal everyone ran to him.
“He doesn’t kick that many so that was great.”
Wilson said gun midfielder Shaun Everington would be ready to resume next week, in round five.
Milne was involved in a third quarter scuffle which involved a scrum of players on the railway flank, pavilion end.
It didn’t seem to bother him. From the free kick he calmly slotted the Storms’s 10th goal and added a couple more to his personal tally in the final term as the late autumn gloom started to envelop the historic ground.
With key forwards Sam Mildren and Tom Bartholomew, goalsneak Lachie Sharp, inter-league full-back Leigh Prior and midfielder Everington still to play in 2014, the Storm will be a very formidable combination in coming weeks.
After watching Castlemaine’s humiliation, I hope to see a more competitive game in the Bendigo Football League’s upcoming round five.
Strathfieldsaye 3.4 8.9 13.14 21.17 (143)
Castlemaine 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.7 (19)
Goals – Storm: Stephen Milne 7, Sean Johns 3, Kris Lea 3, Shannon Geary 2, Jayden Donaldson 2, Tom Dowd, Matthew Johnston, Steven Baker, Kellan Smith, Castlemaine: Tallan Wright, Mathew Conboy.
Best – Storm: Matthew Ladson (best on ground), Stephen Milne, Michael Pilcher, Steven Baker, Matthew Johnston, Jake Hall, Nick Smith. Castlemaine: Jarryd Graham, James O’Brien, Brian Mustafa, Amaneh Elmi.