The trip to Deakin Reserve pitted the fourth-placed Bulldogs up against sixth-placed Demons in a vital match to consolidate a finals berth.DOUG MILLER July 30, 2014 3:45am
Coming off successive losses to top three sides in the Shepparton Swans and Benalla it was an especially important game for the Tatura team to regain momentum as well to still keep a top three spot in reach.
The Bulldogs were without James Wall (VFL), Tom Miller (foot) and James Fraser (omitted) from the previous week.
They were replaced with Rob Montgomery, Alex O’Reilly and under-18 up and comer in Liam Borrelli who looked at home making a solid debut in senior company.
The Demons were on the rebound from a 93-point flogging in the previous game from Kyabram and the game provided them with an opportunity to establish a spot in the final six because they were sitting precariously in sixth position.
Played in near perfect conditions the contest looked like it was going to be a real battle when the Demons came out firing in the opening 10 minutes as opposed to a sluggish looking Bulldog unit.
This, however, was to be an illusion because the Tatura side awoke from its slumber to produce one of its best displays in a long while to run out 61-point victors, a margin that possibly flattered the home side.
Within the first three minutes the Demons had two goals on the board, the second as a result of a double 50 m penalty courtesy of a runner infringement.
Following on from some undisciplined acts the previous week alarm bells were ringing, but thankfully the ship was righted and the focus switched totally to winning the football.
The Bulldogs flicked the switch and completely dominated the remaining 20 minutes of the opening term.
The hard running and use of the ball plus the ability to share the football to release a team-mate was especially pleasing.
After a couple of opportunities went begging, it was to be skipper Billy Lovel who slotted the first for the Bulldogs from long range.
A courageous interception from debutant Borrelli placed the ball in the safe hands of evergreen Linc Wellington and he set up livewire Sonny Whiting for his first goal, and all of a sudden scores were level and the Demons’ promising start had run out of energy.
The hard-running Bulldogs set the pattern for the contest and it was to be the Demons who were chasing tails.
An eight-point quarter-time margin was extended to 35 at the main break, and the United coaching panel was critical that too many of their players were ‘‘lazy’’ and refusing to chase hard enough.
A free kick allowed the Demons to score the opening goal of the second term ,however for the remainder of the quarter it was all the visitors.
Billy Hicks (four goals) had the radar on and slotted a beautiful long goal to kick-start the Tatura surge.
Lovel, who covered more country than Burke and Wills, marked strongly and converted to open up a 14-point margin at the nine-minute mark.
Jayden Young, Brad Ryan, Chris Ryan and Matt Ryan were impassable at half back and provided constant drive forward.
James Sullivan continued his brilliant season winning plenty of contested football.
Tim Lanyon and Tom Sullivan provided enormous drive across mid field as well.
The recurring theme of missed chances continued until a free kick to valuable big man Daniel Flynn saw him goal.
This was to provide the catalyst for an amazing three minutes prior to half-time whereby the Bulldogs slammed through three unanswered goals to blow the margin to six goals, and take the contest away from the Demons.
Great clearance work from Paul Kirby first set up an explosive running goal from Rian McGough, followed up by a crumbing goal from Hicks.
Fantastic forward pressure allowed Lovel to goal at the three-minute mark and it was all one way traffic.
O’Reilly put on a brilliant tackle to turn the ball over.
Unfortunately he could not convert however, the message was loud and clear, the Bulldogs had come to play.
The quarter was one of total domination.
The only frustrating thing for the coaching panel was the inability to put on extreme scoreboard pressure with one goal the only result in the six-point column with eight behinds sitting frustratingly beside it.
The United wingman Tim Looby sent himself forward to try and lift his side and this had somewhat of an effect, because he booted the only two United goals for the term.
Unbelievably the Demons won the term by a point despite the Tatura side’s complete domination of the ball.
After some controlled messages from coach Brendan Vanderdonk who emphasised ‘‘the need to finish off our hard work and run the game out to the final siren’’, the Bulldogs completely dominated the final quarter in an encouraging display.
The final term, although certainly highlighted by brilliant team football, also emphasised the match-winning skills of Whiting as he ran amok in the forward line, kicking goals from both set shots and hard running snaps.
The delivery into the forward 50 was as good as it has been all year and the skill levels lifted to a level that would certainly match the top three sides.
Consistency to replicate this form under higher levels of pressure will be the test down the track.
Score: Tatura 15-21-111 defeated United 7-8-50.
Goals: B. Hicks 4, S. Whiting 4, B. Lovel 3, D. Flynn 2, R. McGough 2.
Best: B. Hicks, B. Lovel, D. Flynn, L. Wellington, T. Lanyon, T. Sullivan.
In a game that needed to be won to keep alive any small chances of playing finals, the Bulldogs were jumped early by the Demons and that 12-point buffer proved too difficult to retrieve as hard as the team performed.
The game was a good standard considering both teams occupy lower positions on the ladder.
Brenton Sheppard was strong up forward providing a real target, finishing with four goals.
A strong final term outscoring the opposition by two goals, frustratingly left the side 15 points down at the final siren despite both teams having 16 scoring shots.
Youngster Robert Kirby battled hard around the ground, Corey Mallon as usual gave 100 per cent, and the returning Matt Cornwall is steadily gaining confidence and match fitness each week.
James Fraser and Under-18 Jack O’Toole were also solid contributors.
Score: Tatura 10-6-66 lost to United 13-3-81.
Goals: B. Sheppard 4, B. Harris 2, R. Kirby 1, D. Burls 1, C. Mallon 1, S. Barrett 1.
Best: B. Sheppard, R. Kirby, C. Mallon, M. Cornwall, J. O’Toole, J. Fraser.
An undermanned side who fielded the bare 18 players, the young pups were overwhelmed by a physically stronger opponent in a display where they did not give up and battled right to the final siren.
Daniel Maher and Hugh Bertram were resilient across half-back and Zavier Ballis continued his development and will be a good Bulldog player of the future.
Brayden McGregor’s consistent season continued and he will follow Liam Borrelli with a senior debut sooner rather than later.
Great to see Tom Devereux also improving with each game he plays. Ryan Evans got a goal in a promising effort too.
Score: Tatura 3-3-21 lost to United 12-13-85.
Goals: R. Evans 1, C. Pratt 1, Z. Ballis 1.
Best: Z. Ballis, B. McGregor, T. Devereux, D. Maher, H. Bertram, J. O’Toole.
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Tuesday, August 16
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