The Roos are back
Monday, 18th July, 2011
The Roos are back in the 2011 premiership race after defeating West by 65 points at Jubilee Oval on Saturday.
After three losses in a row South were treading water but a new found resolve combined with the return of several key players has all of a sudden given the red and white army something to cheer about.
It was a matter of good timing for South and bad for West; the Roos had their strongest side on the field for weeks while West had a number of players missing for various reasons.
For the first time in a month South coach Robert Hickey was smiling after a game.
“It’s good to have a good feeling back around the group, we were very positive this week and we were prepared to take some risks and it was good to get a win on the board.”
The key inclusions for South were Billy Dolan and Heath Caldwell. the pair combined to cut West to pieces. The quality of their disposal and endeavour was something South have been lacking in recent weeks.
Their return coincided with a return to form of Allan Mackiewicz. Playing across half forward and through the mid field the 2009 Lionel Johnston Medallist was up and about from the first quarter.
Mackiewicz, who returned to the game after a knee injury, said after the match he was pleased with his performance.
“My run is a lot better, it’s a work in progress coming back from a knee injury and I am happy I just got a few kicks today.”
Adding to the positives for South was the form of skipper Michael Westley. Playing half back he set up numerous attacks and led by example with his desire for the ball.
The first quarter started with South kicking to the Essential Energy end with their new recruit Tyson Weller lining up at full forward with Heath Teelow alongside.
West started Naden in the middle and had Hayden on a back flank.
The Robins had the first goal on the board through a piece of brilliant play by Chad Ryan, who marked some 60 metres from goal on the grandstand wing, ran around his man, had three bounces and kicked truly from close to the boundary line.
Instead of inspiring his teammate it seemed to do the opposite. South banged on the next four goals before Tonkin answered for the Robins after some great lead up play from Hayden and Ryan.
With the quarter over Heath Caldwell had a set shot after the siren which was long and accurate, giving South a comfortable 21 point lead at the first break.
A highlight of the first term, apart from Ryan’s goal, was the form of veteran Craig Jones. The dashing West wingman who has been around for many seasons turned the clock back with a scintillating 30 minutes of football.
Quarter Time: South 5.4 (34) West 2.1 (13)
Needing to get back into the game West Coach Dale Tonkin shifted Anthony and Agius into the middle and sent Naden and Milne back.
In a quarter where five goals were scored there were some brilliant individual efforts, firstly from Dustin Stephens who side stepped three opponents to set Hamish Wood up, and then from Cody Schorn who had the ball on a string before passing to Dolan who goaled.
Despite a lift in intensity the Robins were again outscored. The South on-ballers were generating the drive with Heath Caldwell, Mackiewicz, Purcell and Dolan the main instigators.
Half Time: South 8.8 (56) West 4.3 (27)
The third quarter was to produce the best half an hour of football for the day, unfortunately for West six of the nine goals scored were by South players.
An early quarter onslaught by South was on the back of West ruckman Matt Nelson suffering a leg injury.
As the big man hobbled from the ground only minutes into the quarter you could hear the collective groan from his teammates, coaching staff and supporters.
He is without doubt the most valuable player in red and black and his absence allowed South to get on top in this area.
Before the West trainers had even applied the ice pack to Nelson’s injury South had four goals on the board and the game was basically over.
The highlights were two goals to Tyson Weller who looked dangerous; one came from some brilliant play from Schorn who moments later kicked a sensational soccer style goal himself to stretch the lead out to over 50 points.
This new look West team refuses to throw the towel in though, and kicked two in a row to spark some life into the game.
A screamer from Rueben Hayden lifted everyone at Jubilee Oval regardless of allegiance. He was part of a new look West backline who were standing firm in the face of a mountain of leather.
As the quarter ran down South steadied to head into the last change with a match winning 51 point lead.
Three Quarter time: South 14.12 (96) West 7.3 (45)
The final term saw South extend their lead to the final margin of 65 points and hang on to second spot on the ladder.
It also leaves them within striking distance of table leader North should the Bulldogs falter in the final six matches.
In the game that had a number of highlights, one that impressed me was the performance of Heath Harris on Cody Schorn. The young Robin was handed a tough job on a very skilful opponent and he showed he has a long career ahead of him with a committed and strong showing.
The most obvious thing to emerge from the game is that at full strength both South and West are capable of winning the premiership - it is a matter of juggling rosters, keeping your best players fit and diluting outside interests to field your best 22.
A pleasing aspect of South’s win was that they had 14 individual goal kickers. Weller will be a good addition once he finds his feet. He has been out of the game for five weeks but has a good pair of hands and attacks the ball well.
As for the Robins’ most important player, Matt Nelson told the BDT late yesterday that he had swelling below his knee but is not in any pain or discomfort.
He will consult with the club’s medical team over the next few days to assess his injury.
A fit Matt Nelson means less grey hairs for Dale Tonkin and ensures West are still on track to play finals football.
Final Score: South 18.15 (123) defeated West 9.4 (58)
Best Players: South - Michael Westley, Billy Dolan, Heath Caldwell, Alan Mackiewicz, Jayson Higgins, Marc Purcell, Simon O’Brien, Cody Schorn. West - Nick Agius, Daniel Milne, Brett Martin, Heath Harris, Rueben Hayden, Ricky Howell.
Goalkickers: South - Heath Caldwell 2, Tyson Weller 2, Cody Schorn 2, Marc Purcell 2, Michael Westley 1, Cohen Caldwell 1, Billy Dolan 1, Todd Davidson 1, Dustin Stephens 1, Allan Mackiewicz 1, Hamish Wood 1, Ayden Pettitt 1, Jayson Higgins 1, Wes Judd 1.
West - Brett Martin 3, Ricky Howell 2, Chad Ryan 1, Greg Conway 1, Jordan Tonkin 1, Shannon Anthony 1.
RESERVES: South 11.11 (77) defeated West 5.1 (31)