Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

No keeping Martiniello down

Goulburn Valley on-baller Will Martiniello has bounced back from a heavy hit to be best-on-ground in the Goulburn Valley's interleague victory over Ballarat.

DAMEN FRANCIS May 26, 2014 3:10am

Will Martiniello bounced back after a heavy hit to be best-on-ground.

Ballarat forward Brenton Riordan probably thought he was doing the right thing when he laid out Goulburn Valley on-baller Will Martiniello early in the third term at Deakin Reserve on Saturday.

He was wrong.

It was a firm, but fair hit, but Martiniello got back up and dominated the remainder of the AFL Victoria Country Championships clash.

The Benalla hard nut went on to win the interleague medal for best-on-ground, as Goulburn Valley romped to a 65-point win and booked a shot at winning back the No.1 ranking against Geelong next year.

‘‘I thought ‘Brucey’ (Shepparton forward Daniel Willis) was probably a bit stiff not to win the medal, but I’ll take it,’’ Martiniello said.

‘‘It took me a bit to get into the game, but after that I got a bit of the footy, which was good.

‘‘My role as a small midfielder is just to dish the handballs off to open players and use my skills when I can.

‘‘The opportunity to represent your league, I’ll take that anytime. It’s a great privilege, a good honour and hopefully I can play again next year.’’

Martiniello, 23, returned to the Saints this season after five years in the VFL and after battling injuries in recent seasons he’s enjoying a new lease on life.

He was named in the best two players in each of undefeated Benalla’s five games this season.

‘‘My whole family is around the club now, my dad is midfield coach, James is captain of the club, Hayley’s back playing netball, my older brother’s involved, Mum’s involved and just being back with my family and a few mates I’m enjoying my footy more,’’ he said.

‘‘Last time I played with Anthony Stevens and I was a young boy and it was the best league in country footy, so I’ve come back, the club’s going well and I’m loving it down there.’’

Martiniello carried his blistering club form into Saturday’s interleague clash.

As usual, much of his work went unheralded, as it came at the bottom of the pack, but as the game wore on he got his hands on more of the ball around the stoppages and the home side lifted in the clearances as a result.

He was also the first link in several scoring chains — his tackle on the forward flank moments after he was floored by Riordan forced a stoppage Goulburn Valley scored from and his spearing pass to Daniel Lewis a short time later were part of a nine goals to three third term that broke the game open.

Goulburn Valley’s on-ball rotation included Benalla teammates Josh Marchbank and Luke Morgan and he paid tribute to those players as well as league stars Lewis, Brendon Hollow and Tim Looby, who he enjoyed playing alongside, rather than against.

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