Beware of Kangaroos
Monday, 8th August, 2011
In less than four weeks South will play West in the Preliminary Final and judging by what happened at Alma Oval on Saturday they will enter that game full of confidence.
In a match that did not reach any great heights as a spectacle, the Roos downed the Robins by 54 points and sent a message to West and North that South are genuine flag contenders and are building a side capable of reversing the Grand Final loss of last year.
The Robins’ coaching staff must now find a way to lift the form and confidence of their young team as they seek to derail the Roos’ finals aspiration.
The power bill at West coach Dale Tonkin’s house would have been high on Saturday night as he no doubt worked late into the evening searching for a way to combat South and their brilliant mid field.
Much is made of the Bulldogs’ on-ballers but on Saturday we witnessed the skill and quality of Heath Caldwell, Billy Dolan and Marcus O’Brien. Between them they ripped West apart.
When you consider Spike Dunn, Phil Neal and Dustin Stephens were missing from the Roos’ mid field mix it is little wonder the bookies are winding their flag odds in.
The lethal left legs of Caldwell and Dolan were precise while O’Brien combined pace and aggression to find plenty of the ball and finish with three goals.
With an icy two to three goal breeze at their back West kicked to the Airport End. The Robins lined up as named while South elevated Clint Keenan from the Reserves to replace Dustin Stephens.
The Roos started Tyson Weller on the ball, Ty Corey was at centre half forward opposed by Nathan Kickett, Cody Schorn was at full forward with the veteran Darren Zanette alongside him while Kiernan McCunnie lined up on Billy Dolan in the centre.
The first quarter was a battle of the back six as only three goals were scored. Kickett led the way for West as he had the better of his battle with Corey although a brutal but legitimate hip and shoulder from Dolan left the young centre half back shaken.
The Robins had plenty of leather but their poor skills let them down on numerous occasions. At the first break it was South by three points.
Within minutes of the second term beginning the Robins hit the front courtesy of a soccer style goal from Conway who dribbled it through from 30 metres.
From this point on though South kicked up a gear and within 20 minutes slammed the door shut on West with six consecutive goals.
It was a quarter where Dolan starred; at various times he had McCunnie and Craig Jones on him but it mattered little as he dominated the term with his trademark aggressive approach.
He was well supported by Heath Caldwell, Daniel Magin and Marcus O’Brien who were controlling the centre of the ground.
For West it was the returning Nick Christos who was their best while their backline led by Kickett, Agius and Zanette were doing their best to hold the rampant Roos out.
As the half time siren neared Hamish Wood kicked a goal to give South a 39-point lead.
At the long break coach Tonkin swung the changes; he swapped Kickett and Conway between centre half back and centre half forward and sent Jono Naden into the mid field.
As West sought to get back into the game it was the turn of the South backline to hold them out; the Robins had the breeze and needed to make up lost ground to have any chance of winning.
With Arlen Bird spoiling everything that came his way, Mick Vlatko, Simon O’Brien, Michael Westley, Dylan Bow and Jordan Staker stood up to deny West time after time.
In a quarter in which five goals were scored Marcus O’Brien booted two of the best when on both occasions he burst through West defenders.
With a 43-point lead at the last change the final quarter was more about West gaining some pride and making the scoreboard more attractive but again they were outscored with the superior skill level of South evident.
The end result was an emphatic win that no doubt pleased the good crowd on ‘Roo Hill’.
It was a frustrating day for Dale Tonkin who managed to take some positives from the encounter.
“There were some good signs with our young defenders in Nathan Kickett and Heath Harris gaining some valuable experience which is great for their development and Nick Christos was good in his first game for a while.”
The second half of Chad Ryan was solid and he received good support from Raven and Agius while Dalby had a dip.
A concern for Tonkin and his coaching staff would be the fact West could only manage five goals for the day and seemed to struggle with their forward structure.
For the winning Coach Robert Hickey life seemed a little better. He was particularly pleased with the good second half of Ty Corey and the form of his ruckman.
“I thought they did a good job and gave us a good look at the ball while Ty is slowly running into some form.”
With the finals now set, both teams will be looking to increase their fitness and work some of their players into form.
SOUTH - Heath Caldwell, Billy Dolan, Marcus O’Brien, Arlen Bird, Michael Westley, Simon O’Brien, Jordan Staker.
WEST - Nick Christos, Nick Agius, Leighton Raven, Darren Zanette, Chad Ryan, Matt Nelson, Nathan Kickett.
SOUTH - Marcus O’Brien 3, Billy Dolan 2, Daniel Magin, Cody Scorn, Tyson Weller, Hamish Wood, Ty Corey, Ayden Pettitt, Jordan Staker, Clint Keenan.
WEST - Chad Ryan, Nick Agius, Nathan Kickett, Marcus Kickett, Craig Jones.
RESERVES: South 19.7 (121) West 5.2 (32)