With the Rodney Cup up for grabs and excellent conditions for football, the contest between traditional rivals Tatura and Mooroopna drew a big crowd on Sunday.DOUG MILLER May 21, 2014 3:45am
Both sides had struggled to produce their best football thus far, so it was an eagerly anticipated clash.
After a close contest in the first half, the Bulldogs took complete control of the game in the second half to run out 67-point winners.
Tom Miller returned for his first senior game this year after injury, to replace the unlucky Jack Ritchie in the only change for the Bulldogs.
Mooroopna fielded a youthful combination including two 16-year-olds.
Tatura started in fine form again with the lively forward Sonny Whiting looking dangerous and in the opening six minutes had established a 12-point lead.
Chris Ryan had a big job on dangerous Cats forward Daniel Lewis and Lewis contributed two early goals to bring the game back on level terms. Ryan must be commended for his display because this was the only time Lewis had any real impact during the game.
The control the Bulldogs had early dissipated as the young Cats side controlled the footy with short passing and plenty of hard running.
After 15 minutes, the Cats had established a handy 14-point break.
A fantastic roving goal to livewire Rian McGough reduced the margin to eight points at the first break.
Strong words from the coach Brendan van der Donk where he expressed his team’s ‘‘lack of respect for the opposition and the fact they were playing a young team’’, had immediate results early in the second term, but poor conversion in front of goals could not put any scoreboard pressure on.
Finally a goal to dynamic midfielder Billy Hicks reduced the margin to a solitary point.
Full credit must go to the youthful Cats, who were able to answer every challenge the Bulldogs threw at them and even found ways to hit the scoreboard and open up a 15-point margin at the long break.
The Cats were precise with their ball movement and were prepared to hold onto the ball until a free man was hit up. The Bulldogs became frustrated and failed to man up their opponents.
At the long break, alarm bells were ringing and many Tatura supporters were nervous about the outcome of the game.
After some stern words from assistant coach Tim Little and van der Donk at the long break, a reinvigorated outfit took the park in the second half.
A greater turn around in a contest could not have been imagined because the Bulldogs completely overwhelmed their opposition.
With Paul Kirby dominating at the centre bounces, he fed his array of midfielders and it was to be McGough, Hicks, Linc Wellington, and an inspired quarter from Rob Montgomery that set the Bulldogs alight.
Whiting, although a little off target, was dynamic and his speed and leading was too much for the Cats’ defence, it was just a matter of time before he started converting for full points.
James Wall, who led the defence admirably, was a road block to any Cats forward thrusts and the experienced Bulldogs looked menacing as they slammed through 6.5 to the Cats’ solitary major, which turned out to be their only score for the half.
It was clearly the best quarter of football the Tatura side has produced this year.
Van der Donk, with a 20-point lead at the final break, asked his players to finish with a big final term and win a final quarter for the first time this year.
The plea was answered in emphatic terms as the Bulldogs piled on seven goals while keeping the Cats scoreless.
The term was one of total domination because Whiting became the focal point and slammed home four majors in a promising display to finish with eight goals for the match. Put this with numerous behinds and he had a big day.
The result became extremely one-sided as the rampant Dogs found some rhythm to slam home 13 goals to one in the second half, an 82-point turnaround, and produce a percentage-boosting win.
Miller got through his first game unscathed and showed some poise with the ball. With no new injuries, a full squad will be ready for a massive challenge away against the undefeated Shepparton Swans in two weeks following the interleague bye this week.
The second half showed what the team was capable of producing and gave supporters confidence that their best was good.
● Continued on page 14
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