Robins charge towards final
Monday, 11th July, 2011
After two decades in the football wilderness the West Football Club is primed for a slice of the September action.
This was made clear on Saturday when they thrashed an insipid Central side by 76 points at Alma Oval.
Make no mistake, this West team is capable of exceeding all expectations and claiming the TC Gunn up for the first time in 21 years.
But any talk of finals football is taboo around Robins’ coach, Dale Tonkin.
“We play it contest by contest, week by week and that’s all we can go by,” he said.
It was a question I also posed to one of the Robins’ best on Saturday, Jordan Tonkin.
“That’s what we play footy for, we don’t play to lose games, that’s for sure. I want to play finals and all the boys want to play finals. We just have to do the hard work so hopefully it pays off.”
Whatever anyone says there is a real air of excitement around this West team and credit must go to Dale Tonkin who has turned the club around.
He has players who are fit and want to play footy, he has structures in place and he coaches the team as well if not better than anyone has in the past 20 years.
The one thing Tonkin has installed in his players is a real hunger for the contest.
And let me tell you, this team has both hunger and confidence - two things that were definitely missing from Central on Saturday.
The Magpies had everything to play for - most importantly, a chance to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon, but on a day where they had to lift, they didn’t.
The excuse of missing key players is there but the most disappointing aspect of their performance was a real lack of intensity and appreciation of their position on the ladder.
At quarter time the game was over. West had kicked four goals seven behinds and were all over Central. As a contest you could sense the day for the black and whites was done and dusted.
Hayden lined up at full forward opposed to Collins while the Magpies started Jackson McInnes deep forward. However after five minutes it was plain to see that the competition’s best forward was hampered by a foot injury.
I realise that a win was important, but surely with a player of McInnes’ ability, if he is not fit why play him?
The Robins were dominating around the midfield. Brett Martin was brilliant, Leighton Raven and Jordan Tonkin ran themselves into the ground, Chad Ryan and Daniel Milne combined well together in the middle while Jono Naden was all class across half back.
The Magpies’ cause was not helped when Cox left the ground with an ankle injury. He did not reappear and his ability to run, carry the ball and deliver was certainly missed.
Quarter Time: West 4.7 (31) Central 1.1 (7)
The second quarter was a carbon copy of the first. West booted four goals six behinds while Central struggled to register just the solitary major.
Again it was the Robins’ on- ballers who were doing the damage. Martin capped off a high-possession term with two goals, McInerney was playing well but was shown a card for abusing an umpire. He was reported and will miss next week after accepting a one match ban.
Half Time: West 8.13 (61) Central 2.1 (13)
With the game and possibly their season on the line the Central coaching staff went with their best players in the middle. Lawrence was in the ruck with Heath, Zanette and McInnes alongside.
They pushed Collins forward with Bevan, while Bayden Quinn went to full back on Hayden.
Unfortunately for the Magpies not much changed. The third quarter was a struggle for both teams with only two goals kicked in a rather dour 25 minutes of football.
Interestingly, both goals were the result of 50 metre penalties - Martin for West and then McClure for Central after McInerney had knocked the ball out of his hands after he had marked it.
Three Quarter Time: West 9.17 (71) Central 3.5 (23)
The final 30 minutes was worth the trip over the Hill as 10 goals were kicked for the term - seven to West and three to Central.
The elusive Martin was moved to full forward and kicked two, Conway, who had been a strong and reliable target across half forward, booted two, while teammates in red and black lined up to get their names into the scorebook.
In the end it was a comfortable 76 point win to West. If they had kicked straight it would have been 100 points-plus.
The Robins face South next week and the equation is simple - win and they will go to second on the ladder and be in a position over the final six games to claim top spot from North.
For Central they are now six points behind third placed West, and if they don’t start stringing some wins together their year is over sooner.
They will regain some quality players next week but need to rediscover the hunger and intensity that was missing on Saturday.
While I could name 10 best players for West, it is a different story for Central. Justin Heath never gave up, McClure and Zanette had a crack, while Lawrence must be mentioned for his four-quarter effort in the ruck against Matt Nelson.
Best Players: (W) Brett Martin, Jordan Tonkin, Chad Ryan, Leighton Raven, Jono Naden, Ben McInerney, Matt Nelson
(C) Justin Heath, Brenton Zanette, James McClure, Shane Lawrence.
Goalkickers: (W) Brett Martin 5, Ben McInerney 3, Greg Conway 3, Marcus Kickett 3, Jordan Tonkin, Rueben Hayden
(C) Alec Bray , Jake Gepp , Matt Collins , Bayden Quinn , Justin Heath .
Central 7.8 (50) West 7.2 (44)