Scoop reviews Round Ten
(Studio announcer): "Ladies and gentlemen it's the 'Ottavi' Show with your host... Joel Ottavi!"
Well, that's how the script would have opened if we knew East Point (26.10-166) star forward Joel Ottavi was about to kick 17 goals off his own boot to trounce Melton South (13.4-82) at Melton Recreation Reserve on the weekend. Not since 1999 when Darley's David Barnes booted 19 against Daylesford or the mid-2000s of East Point's Dan Jordan have, we been privileged to goal returns in the high teens.
According to Kangas coach Jake Bridges, Ottavi's achievement was just reward for hard work over the last few months.
"(Joel) marked well and kicked straight on the back of a lot of unselfishness from his teammates who helped create the space with their run."
Ottavi played ruck-forward for the first half and traditional full-forward in the second.
Matty Johnston continued his stellar season with Mickitja Rottumah-Onus to be named in the best for the winners while Panther’s spearhead Dylan Conway finished with four goals. Shaun Wyatt returned to the side to join Isaac Conway and Jake Thornton-Gielen (five goals) in the best for the home side, but the day belonged to the Kangas and in particular their number 32.
The reigning dual Premiers led at every change to dismantle the Panthers including 14-second half goals in a refreshing display of accurate goalkicking from both sides - 39.14 collectively.
Frustrated Sunbury (11.10-76) coach Travis Hodgson and his men made it three wins from their last four matches, downing Bacchus Marsh (9.9-63) by 13-points at the Clarke Oval on Saturday.
Hodgson's pride has suffered the brunt of an unsettling 2021 more so than most with unavailability, re: location, travel restrictions, VFL/AFL selection, and of course injury. Even Saturday's must-win game against the Cobras was not without its inconvenience. Latest edition Jake Sutton was 'pinched' by Essendon VFL on Friday at short notice while Josh Guthrie continues to make up the numbers for the Sydney Swans VFL given their entire list are unable to travel due to the current lockdown situation in NSW. Even ruckman David Kovasevic is a week-to-week proposition while reigning Henderson Medallist Alik Magin remains stuck on the Gold Coast preparing for a belated return.
But there's no discounting the effort of the existing crop who were able to get the job done on Saturday, kicking six goals to three after half-time to secure the points. The Lion's message heading in was clear, their execution precise. Avoiding the Cobras spine, namely Daniel Burton, Jake Owen, and Ryan Bartlett held the key. As a result, the Lions were able to exploit the Cobras on the spread, kicking their third-highest score of the season. The Cobras task to convert a five-point lead at half-time was made difficult losing Tom German (groin), Billy Griffiths (hamstring), Kane White (hamstring), and Ryan Bartlett (head knock) leaving an empty bench for the entire last quarter and a bit. Sunbury's Wade Derkson (ankle) and Mick Edwards (concussion) will miss their round 11 meeting against the Lakers.
Redan (9.18-72) did enough to secure the points against a youthful Darley (7.13-55) at City Oval.
The Lion's win sees them return to the top six at the expense of Sebastopol, but how long that will last is another question. Redan could argue that missed opportunity in front of goal flattered the Devils and the final margin. Lachie George (2.5) played the entire game deep forward and provided a dangerous target with Tom Lamb (1.6) but were serial offenders in the make-up of the Lion's miserly 1.9 return in the second half. Given the nature of such inaccuracy, there were moments for the winless Devils to reel in the 23-point deficit, but they had their own case of the 'yips' (2.9 second half). Four set shots early in the last quarter, directly in front, no further than 40 metres out resulted in behinds to let the Lions off the hook. Those misses and a spread of clangers worthy of an earlier time slot over the journey had its consequences - a ninth straight loss.
Redan's Cooper Craig-Peters, Daniel Bond, Pat Fitzgibbon, and Cooper Atchison had the most influence on the game between the arcs while Devils defensive trio Matthew Brett, Darren Leonard, and Shane Page were enormous under pressure, leading an otherwise inexperienced back half. It does not get any easier for these two teams on Saturday when the Lions are away to East Point and the Devils host ladder leaders North Ballarat City.
Ballarat (13.7-85) moved to fourth on the BFNL table ahead of their bye in round 11 with a confidence-building 18-point win over Sebastopol (9.13-67).
The first quarter essentially decided the game as the Swans got off to a flyer with a seven-goal to two burst to stun the 'Burras faithful at Marty Busch Reserve.
Dynamic forward Andrew Hooper booted two of his six goals in the opening term to help set up the first-quarter advantage. The siren to end the opening stanza could not have come quick enough for 'Burras coach Mick Searl desperate for a reset. Credit to the 'Burras, their response ahead of half time was immediate with a six-goal to three-term to reduce the margin to 23-points. While Sebastopol did go onto win the second half - 3.10 to 3.5, the goals had disappeared, and the damage was already done.
The Swans spread of impact players continues to grow - it was Grant Baldwin's turn to be named best, ahead of a host of other players who were informed. For the depleted 'Burras, Lachlan Cassidy returned to head their list of contributors, along with usual suspects Bailey Medwell and James Keeble.
The Swans will remain with five wins and five losses come Saturday 5pm given their bye but will likely hang onto a place in the top six. Injury-laden Sebastopol host Melton South who are winless in Ballarat from their last 14 attempts. Ironically it was the 'Burras who were the Panther's last highway success, round three, 2017.
Melton (14.13-97) were systematic in their four-quarter win over Lake Wendouree (6.5-41) at MacPherson Park.
The Bloods won all four quarters with consistent returns of four goals, four goals, two goals, and four goals while the struggling Lakers made little impression managing just one, two, one, and two (goals).
Lakers coach Dale Power had the unenviable task of prioritizing up to four matchups in the Bloods forward half, namely the Carter brothers Ryan and Liam, Captain Braedyn Kight, and the dangerous Kevin Klixx.
The four targets combined for nine of the Bloods fourteen goals, but it was Klixx (four goals) who proved the most difficult to contain, named best on ground. Jack Walker has had arguably his most consistent season to join Klixx and ruckman Ben Archard who is warming with fitness and form just at the right time for coach Aaron Tymms.
The Lakers did not throw the towel in by any stretch at the weekend despite not winning a quarter and kept the inform Bloods to just six second-half goals despite the convincing nature of the win. Timmy Collins, Nick Rippon (two goals), and Angus Gove led the charge to be named in the best for the visitors, but all honours lay clearly with the winners.
It feels from the outside, the once even make-up of the BFNL in 2021 is narrowing down to three A-Grade teams to beat - Melton, of course, North Ballarat City, and East Point. The remaining 'door knockers' I foresee, have the job ahead.