Gordon and Beaufort engaged in a fierce qualifying final at Buninyong last Saturday. After persistent chilly rain fell on the days leading to the much anticipated contest the oval presented teams with an ideal playing surface. Much had changed within the Eagles group since Beaufort crushed them by 49 points in round 3. Ron Watts chargers lost only one other game for the season after that shellacking and were striving for their 12th straight victory as they took on the highly rated Crows outfit.
From the very first ruck clash each side never took a backward step and like two heavy weight champions slugged it out for the entire contest. It really was a game controlled by the defenses. Eagle Brad Hallam dominated the first quarter across half back with perfect timing and sure hands. The tall number 20 took six telling marks and followed up with perfectly weighted kicks to teammates as they tried to penetrate Beaufort’s accomplished defensive unit. Goals to Sutcliffe and Nicholson helped produce a slender quarter time lead. Score: Gordon 2.2 – 14 Beaufort 1.3 – 9.
The Eagles seemed calm and well aware of the challenges developing around them. Quarter two was just as captivating. Each tackle was more a clash, each bump more a smash as opponents tried to gain the upper hand. The discipline displayed by all players has to be acknowledged and the umpires rarely separated combatants as they would immediately move on to create options at the following encounters. Hallam and co defenders, the Gunnell twins Luke and Mark, Tay Wason, Gerard Clifford along with rotating players Caleb Myers and Matt Hoy continued their cool protection as Beaufort mounted attacks into their forward zone. At the other end forward pressure was first class but so to Beauforts experienced backs. It took two quick precise kicks, one from Wason one from Nicholson, that put the football into Brendan Sutcliffe path for his second. The Toohey brothers, Adam and Jack, along with Jim Murphy and speedsters Mick Nolan and Matt Spezza pressured opponents tirelessly as the football seesawed back and forth up along both sides of the oval. Wason again was involved in a brilliant passage of play that saw the ball skillfully shared between Zack Ryan, Matt Raworth Nolan and ending with a Steve Nicholson goal. Scores at the long break Gordon 4.4 – 28 Beaufort 3.3 – 21.
Throughout the third term the battle continued with both sides having opportunities to forge away. It was the Crows that made the most of their moments. Kicking four goals two behinds they absorbed the pressure and methodically doubled their score. On the other hand the Eagles had equal amount of chances but lapses in concentration and skills saw our hard work return one goal five behinds only. That one goal came from the boot of the permanently hard working Brendan Sutcliffe. Beaufort seized upon two of our missed shots on goal and quickly sent the ball to the other end for two ‘coast to coast’ goals. Scores at the final break Gordon 5.9 – 39 Beaufort 7.5 – 47.
Watt encouraged his players to continue their effort and to correct their costly blunders. As in the previous three quarters the on ball brigade of Tye Murphy, Ethan Crackel, Matt Raworth, ruckmen Angus Watts along with relief tall Sutcliffe went toe to toe with their accomplished opponents Sutclifffe kicked another which surely was the goal of the day. With a frosty wind at his back, standing beside the point of the center square the big number 8 kicked 70 meters for his fourth goal and gave the Eagles hope. Beaufort responded immediately. At the fifteen minute mark Adam Toohey zigged and zagged his way between opponents to bring the Eagles within a goal. Again Beaufort showed precise skills under pressure and added another three majors. The Eagles strived valiantly but again were off target. Final scores Gordon 7.14 – 56 Beaufort 11.7 – 73.
Though beaten on this occasion the Eagles have shown over the last month that they can compete strongly with the top sides. Their style of play has become more controlled and consistent. They will learn from this defeat and look forward to taking on Newlyn who defeated reigning premiers Hepburn by two points.
The match will be played this Sunday at Creswick which has very good spectator facilities. The Eagles already has great support but if possible come along and join the team.
Hope to see you there.
|Gordon||2.2-14||4.4 – 28||5.9-39||7.14-56|
Goal Kickers: L. Murray 3, T. Stapleton 2, J. Orr, J. Duke, T. Le Lievre, A. Petrie, J. Cameron, D. Venditti
Best Players: B. Howard, D. Day, D. Venditti, R. Sangster, M. Foster, J. McDermott
Goal Kickers: B. Sutcliffe 4, S. Nicholson 2, A. Toohey
Best Players: B. Hallam, B. Sutcliffe, M. Gunnell, E. Crackel, T. Murphy, Z. Ryan