Season 2021 of the McDonald's Ballarat Football Netball League kicked off on the weekend, and Scoop takes us through the winners and losers from the Round 1 BFNL action.
A Brendan McCartney-led North Ballarat (13.15-93) defeated a Stephenson-less Redan (11.9.75) by 18 points to kickstart City’s 2021 season in winning style. But it wasn't without a scare late in the game, as Redan reeled in a 16-point half-time deficit to level the scores before City steadied the ship with three unanswered goals to secure a well-earned victory.
The most encouraging thing for both sides moving forward would be the impact of their younger players, suggesting growth and influence on games has arrived earlier than expected. Josh Chatfield was named best afield for the winners, while Harry Loader and Jamie Quick hit the scoreboard with three majors each. For Redan, despite the loss, the returns from their youth were similar, as Cooper Atchison and Cooper Craig-Peters (two goals) were named amongst the best, while newcomer Izaac Grant also finished with three goals.
Sebastopol (13.14-92) came from the clouds to beat reigning dual premiers East Point (11.8-74) by 18 points, ending a run of seven straight losses against the Kangas in the process. It wasn't the ideal start for 'Burras new coach Mick Searle, who was staring down the barrel at a season-opening loss after trailing by 29 points at half-time. But an 11 goal to four second half would see the 'Burras stun the mighty Kangas without stars Jacob Brown, Jake McQueen and Jordy Johnston. James Keeble (three goals) was named best afield, while Toby Thoolen replacement Jack Richards who was influential in his first game in the ruck. For East Point, new additions Harry (named best) and Jack Ganley look like they'll have a role to play in the three-peat mission, while usual suspects Matty Johnston and Mickitja Rotumah-Onus made sound returns.
Ballarat (9.12-66) has momentarily silenced the spruik on Bacchus Marsh (5.10-40) with a resounding 26-point win under the lights at Alfredton Oval. Swans marquee signing Josh Gibson (general soreness) was a notable absentee heading in after all the hype surrounding the former Hawthorn great’s return to football.
This didn't seem to affect a determined Swans outfit, who booted six goals to one to run out comfortable winners. It was as though one team was fresh and dangerous on the spread, while the other struggled in concrete boots. Swans coach Joe Carmody would be thrilled with his team's first-up win, naming Marcus Powling as Best on Ground, while hard nuts Lachie Dawson and captain Sam James were prolific at ground level. Ever-consistent Daniel Burton was named best for the Cobras. In some encouraging news for Bacchus Marsh, newcomers Ryan Bartlett and Jayden Owen showed enough to warrant the attention of any opposition side moving forward.
Sunbury (14.15-99) proved too good on the road for Darley (11.4.70) with a solid 29-point win under the new lights at the weekend. A monster crowd saw a tight tussle early with just one point separating the two teams at quarter-time before the Lions’ class came to the fore. Sunbury dominated Darley through the middle stages, booting 8.10 to 1.3 to lead by 50 at the final change. Lions new recruits Josh Guthrie, Daniel Toman and Tyson Lever had nearly 100 possessions between them and, with Mitch Conn and Dylan Featon never too far from the action, Sunbury truly dominated between the arcs to record an all-important away win. Darley's Mathew Brett was clearly best for the losing side. If not for the Werribee affiliate, the 29-point margin could easily have been more.
Melton (16.17.113) did what they had to do and put this cross-town stoush against Melton South (6.8-44) to bed by half-time before going on to win by 69 points. The Carter boys, Ryan (five goals) and Liam (three goals), booted eight between them to give the competition an early sighter as to how the Bloods forward line will look. Bloods newcomer Kevin Klix (three goals) was named amongst the best to put a smile on the face of a curious coaching group hoping to overcome the loss of Shaun Campbell and Connor Griffiths. While soundly beaten, the Panthers would be pleased with the form of new additions Bradley Olsson and Shaun Wyatt who worked tirelessly. Dylan Conway was the only multiple goal scorer for the Panthers, finishing with three. I wouldn't say it’s alarm bells just yet for Pritchard's Panthers - Melton just may be the real deal.