Monday, 15th August, 2011
In the first match at Memorial Oval in over 12 months Central received no home coming presents from South only a comprehensive 91 point belting.
With Central’s spiritual home being used for the first time this season there was an expectation they would relish the opportunity to have a game on their home turf and that we were going to witness a tight contest between these two clubs.
It wasn’t to be, instead we witnessed a final’s bound Roos team with a sniff of September in their nostrils ruthlessly dispose of a side that has endured a season from hell.
The winners were brilliantly led by young goal kicking star Cody Schorn who finished with a bag of 10 goals, a first for him at any level of football. He was supplied and supported by a dynamic hard running mid field led by the Caldwell brothers, Spike Dunn, Marcus O’Brien and Matt Mackney.
With the first final just over two weeks away South Coach Robert Hickey used the game to run some players into form and fitness, in particular his veterans in Phil Neal and Dustin Stephens.
The Roos’s coach was just as happy with their form as he was with two players hoping to be part of the finals mix.
“It was Cohen Caldwell’s best game since 2009,” Hickey said post match. “He did make a couple of mistakes but overall he was really good for us while Matt Mackney has put his hand up to play finals football, his form on the wing was really pleasing.”
There was one player though who although playing in a beaten side gave one of the best individual performances I have seen for a few years. Central utility Brenton Zanette was simply outstanding, whether playing loose in the back half, in the centre or as he did later in the game at centre half forward, he was a star.
He marked everything that came his way and his level of commitment for the contest is only equalled by a handful of players in this competition.
It is a fair assumption to say that the Magpies had their chances to compete with South but they were wasted, particularly in the first quarter where poor execution meant the scoreboard pressure that stand in Central Coach Anthony Barker was looking for was not there.
“We had our chances, you saw it just as I did, we could have had four early goals but we didn’t and from then on South with their runners were just too good.”
The chance of an upset was not helped when by the start of the final term the Magpies had no fit players left on the bench; Bevan and Jackson were nursing calf injuries, Heath was battling a troublesome injury to his drive muscle while Dean was also out of action.
The match started with Mackiewicz dropping out for South. Todd Davidson who played a full game in the reserves was brought in as Coach Hickey decided to go with 21 players instead of 22 opting to give his returning players a full run.
The Magpie camp lost Cox, Hann and Roberts from the 22 named and replaced them with Wade Gepp, Dean and Jackson.
On winning the toss Central headed towards the Chook Pavilion and surprised a few with their line up; Jackson McInnes was at centre half back on Ty Corey, Jamie Bevan lined up at full back on Cody Schorn, Brenton Zanette was given no opponent and a licence to roam in the back half while Jordan Gilby had the tagging role on Heath Caldwell.
The first term was one of joy for South supporters and frustration for Central followers. The Roos booted 5 goals to none as Magpie players lined up to waste 4 golden opportunities to apply some pressure to their rivals.
The South drive came from the mid field where Heath Caldwell, Phil Neal, Spike Dunn and Matt Mackney dominated. The Magpies were kept in the game through the efforts of Brenton Zanette, James McClure in the middle and Jackson McInnes.
As Schorn got on top with two goals of his own and a hand in two others McInnes was moved to full back and Bevan out to centre half back.
The Magpies continued to butcher the ball in their forward half and at quarter time South held a comfortable 27 point lead.
Quarter Time: South 5.2 (32) Central 0.5 (5)
The first part of the second quarter developed into an arm wrestle as both teams lifted their intensity. It took until the 8 minute mark before the first goal was scored as born-again footballer Clinton Keenan booted his first to give the Roos a handy 33 point margin.
The Magpies had to wait until the halfway mark of the term before Cohen Turner booted their first from a set shot, this was quickly followed by another as Ben Camilleri let fly with a booming 50 metre goal.
When South on-baller Marcus O’Brien was given 10 minutes on the bench for an audible obscenity the efforts of Camilleri in the middle, Lawrence in the ruck and Zanette across half back were starting to pay dividends as Central slowly started working their way back into the game.
However when it looked like we may have a contest on our hands, and with less than 60 seconds left on the clock, Schorn and Mackney shattered that illusion when they both broke free to goal and extend South’s lead to 34 points.
Half Time: South 8.5 (53) Central 2.7 (19)
With what seemed a match winning lead the South coaching panel opted for some interesting positional moves, the main one being Arlen Bird swapping positions with Ayden Pettit, as Bird went forward Pettit was given the centre half back job on Adam Rhodes.
It worked as Bird goaled early. When Marcus O’Brien returned to the field from his spell on the sidelines he lit up the grandstand wing with several scintillating runs, two of which resulted in goals to Purcell and Keenan.
With the game slipping away Central moved Zanette and McInnes into the middle and Lawrence to centre half back.
While the Magpie moves generated some ball movement forward, one which gave Camilleri his second goal, it was South who continued to dominate and when Schorn banged through two late goals it was starting to get ugly for the those in black and white.
Three Quarter time: South 14.11 (95) Central 3.8 (26)
At the last change Anthony Barker urged his players to lift and show some pride and it worked in part as Central kicked 4 goals, unfortunately for them South responded with 8 of their own.
As a spectacle it was great to watch as 12 goals were kicked in a thrilling 30 minutes of football however with the Magpies struggling with barely 18 fit players it was only a matter of time. When Zanette suffered a leg injury and with no fit players on the bench to replace him he was moved forward the end seemed nigh.
Most of the Magpie army no doubt thought their team’s and Zanette’s day were done but it was not to be as the competitive spirit returned and Zanette not only goaled himself he had a hand in two others. It was a brave and determined performance from a player who was refusing to give in.
As timekeepers Dannatt and Blows counted down the clock, attention switched to Cody Schorn who was sitting on 9 goals and within reach of his first 10 goal haul.
We did not have to wait long, with only a minute left in the game South ruckman Jayson Higgins marked strongly in the goal square. With not a selfish bone in his big body he handballed to Schorn who calmly booted his 10th goal.
It is always a magical moment when a player kicks 10 goals in a game and this was no different as the unassuming youngster received the kudos of his teammates.
As the siren was about to sound Dustin Stephens added cream on the cake when he goaled and helped his team record a resounding 91 point victory.
For the winners you could not go past Schorn as their best player; not only did he kick 10 goals he had a part in at least 3 others. Cohen Caldwell stood up and sent a message to Robert Hickey that he is in their best 22. His little brother Heath had another fine game, Dunn was simply dynamic, Marcus O’Brien had some special moments while Mackney, Simon O’Brien, Bird, Keenan and Purcell could also lay claims to being in the best player list.
As has been the case for several weeks for Central it was the experienced players who were their best. Zanette was superb, Camilleri booted 3 goals and had a mountain of possessions, McInnes got better as the game went on, McClure was tough, Lawrence stood up, Bullen had a crack and Batson impressed with his endeavour.
The next two rounds is about some fine tuning for South as they approach yet another finals campaign while the Central Club is left to contemplate a lengthening injury list and ponder where it all has gone wrong.
They are no doubt looking forward to their season coming to a quick and merciful end.
The only downside for South is the possible season ending injury to Wes Burns who twigged his troublesome hamstring once again.
Next week South host North at Alma Oval which is shaping up as one of the games of the season and going on current form a possible preview of this year’s Grand Final.