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Avenel goes down - with a fight

Swans senior footballers show promising signs against Stanhope.

CHALPAT SONTI April 9, 2014 3:48am

Michael Dundon marks for Avenel against Stanhope as Rohan Flint watches on.


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A five-goal loss to start the season wouldn’t normally be the ideal way for a side with finals aspirations to kick off its campaign, but for Avenel it’ll do just fine.

While a win might have been better, player-coach Cameron Gillett was happy with his side’s first hit out at Stanhope despite going down by 33 points.

The Swans were 10 points in front early in the last quarter and had two shots for goal which might have iced the game, but missed them both and allowed last season’s beaten grand finalist to get a run on.

Gun midfielders Don Stirling and Michael Morgan had to leave the field with cramp, exposing Avenel’s lack of depth, and Stanhope — with a game already under its belt — didn’t need another invitation.

Gillett’s brief summary of the game said it all.

‘‘It was really positive at the start,’’ he said.

‘‘We won the centre clearances, defended really well and our forwards were on top and it was the same through the second and third quarters. Every time they kicked one, we kicked one straight back but we didn’t capitalise early on with a couple of goals, just like the practice game at Yea.

‘‘We were quite happy even 10 minutes into the (final) quarter thinking ‘we’ve got this wrapped up’ but at the 15-minute mark of the last quarter is when our midfield stopped. Those two went off the ground and we didn’t have enough rotations and they started to get on top. Our backline didn’t get any help from the midfield who just couldn’t cut the supply off.’’

The fade out is familiar to Avenel supporters, but they would be happy their side stuck at it for longer this time. It is also as close as the Swans have got to a top side for a while.

‘‘It’s all match practice for us,’’ Gillett said.

‘‘Our pre-season being limited, it is going to take us four or five weeks before we’re really ready but the positive thing for the club is ... we didn’t go down by 80 or 90 points after sticking with them for half a game.

‘‘We’ve still got two or three blokes to come back into the side, a new ruckman and the WAFL boys (Stirling and Morgan) still getting up to full fitness.’’

Morgan and Stirling were among the side’s best when the Swans were firing, along with Kasey Duncan and Todd Heaysman but the standout was defender Mick Dundon, who promises to be a great ‘‘get’’ for the Swans (see Between the Lines in this week’s Telegraph).

Cael McCarthy kicked a couple of goals but was double-teamed most of the game.

Gillett was happiest with his defence.

‘‘They only kicked five goals through their forwards and the backline was outstanding.’’

Avenel will take on Violet Town at home on Saturday and those who were injured in the Stanhope game should be fit, including Stirling and Morgan, as well as Andrew Green.

‘‘It’s going to be a good test for us,’’ Gillett said.

‘‘We wanted to play a couple of good sides up front to see where we’re at and we should hopefully come away with the win.’’

Stanhope 3.1, 6.3, 6.10, 14.14 (98)

Avenel 3.3, 5.8, 7.10, 9.11 (65)

GOALS, Avenel: N. Thomas 3, D. Stirling 2, C. McCarthy 2, A. Green, T. Heaysman.

BEST, Avenel: M. Dundon, T. Heaysman, D. Stirling, C. Gillett, K. Duncan, M. Morgan.

RESERVES

This Avenel side has the bones of last year’s grand finalists but a few new faces as well, and it took time to click in the season opener.

The Lions had a six-goal lead by the main break and while Avenel was better in the second half, it was also wayward. The reliable Robbie Sidebottom kicked three goals while better players included James Pace, Scott Richardson, Josh Brinkhuizen, Ray Capuano, Simon Van Duinen and Travis Burvill.

Stanhope 4.3, 7.9, 10.11, 14.12 (96)

Avenel 1.3, 1.5, 2.10, 5.12 (42)

GOALS, Avenel: R. Sidebottom 3, J. Pace, S. Van Duinen.

BEST, Avenel: J. Pace, S. Richardson, J. Brinkhuizen, R. Capuano, S. Van Duinen, T. Burvill.

UNDER-18

Unlike most KDFL thirds sides, Avenel has got most of its players back from last year, and a few more, as it strives for finals in 2014.

And it showed too against a seriously-undermanned Stanhope, with the Swans far too good in a four-quarter performance.

Josh McDonald as the star of the show, kicking six goals in a best-on-ground performance while Tom Jacobson, Kayd Paine, Jesse Jones, Cody Hogan and Hayden Gawne were others to stand out.

Avenel 4.5, 8.9, 12.14, 18.15 (123)

Stanhope 1.2, 2.3, 3.3, 6.3 (39)

GOALS, Avenel: J. McDonald 6, K. Paine 3, L. Brett 3, C. Hogan 2, H. Gawne 2, C. Smith, B. Speechley.

BEST, Avenel: J. McDonald, T. Jacobson, K. Paine, J. Jones, C. Hogan, H. Gawne.

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