Monday, 29th August, 2011
In an embarrassing and insipid display, West have had their finals aspirations dented by a South team who appear grand final bound.
The final margin of 129 points has, in one afternoon, destroyed much of what the Robins have spent 12 months working to fix.
The infamous West collapses of a previous era returned on Saturday. With so many past players and supporters watching on the players in red and black served up a performance that was disgraceful.
“We didn’t bring our A grade game today,” Coach Dale Tonkin said post match.
They sure didn’t.
The statistics tell a damning story for West. After quarter time South kicked 20 goals to one, in the final term they booted 10 goals to none.
South had 45 shots at goal to 11 from West and the Robins had two scoreless quarters, the second and the last.
What was disappointing was that the first quarter was one of the best I have seen this season; both teams booted four goals apiece and the football was of a high standard.
What was served up after quarter time by West was rubbish; if South had kicked straighter in the second quarter the margin would have been far greater.
You could mount an argument that with a Preliminary Final the main objective it doesn’t hurt to rest players or play them out of their normal positions, but surely pride and confidence is an important commodity going into a cut-throat final.
For most of the last two quarters some of the Robins stars had their boots off and were sitting in the shade of the interchange bench.
As for South, they used the outing to fine tune their structure, look at a few different options and run several players into form.
The game allowed South Coach Robert Hickey to give Ayden Pettitt a run in the ruck where he showed plenty of promise and regular ruckman Jayson Higgins ventured into defence where he was strong.
Amongst a galaxy of stars Heath Caldwell stood out - he must have amassed 40 plus touches off his half back flank. He was like a leper on the beach, everyone knew he was there but no one wanted to go near him.
He was joined by the likes of Dustin Stephens whose hands were on every second ball, and Marcus O’Brien who once freed from his shadowing role on Rueben Hayden kicked five goals and cut West to pieces with his scything runs. They were brilliant.
“It was great to see Dustin Stephens play so well after being in reserve grade last week; Hamish Wood was strong, Cohen Caldwell was good as was Marc Purcell in the first half,” Hickey said.
They were not alone on the best player list, Hickey could have thrown in Allan Mackiewicz, Michael Vlatko and Jordan Staker as well.
“We are well placed for next week we will get Billy Dolan and Spike Dunn back which will strengthen our midfield, as well as Simon O’Brien and Arlen Bird which will boost our backline,” Hickey said.
The big job for Hickey this week will be who to leave out. One player the South coaching panel will need to make a call on is recruit Tyson Weller.
He is definitely favouring his injured hand and it was noticeable on several occasions on Saturday that he was unable to mark the ball as he would like.
“He has another week for it to mend and we are confident he will be alright,” a hopeful coach said.
The one positive for West is they get another crack at South on Saturday.
“We will get six players back,” Tonkin said.
Highlights from the weekend for West are few but amongst the debris the continued development of young West ruckman Heath Teelow was a positive as was the form of Heath Harris who, when at full back, had the better of Cody Schorn.
They had a few mates who put their hands up, Nick Agius in his 50th game had a dip, Jordan Tonkin has his moments while Chad Ryan had a good first half.
I must mention John Blore, the Robins skipper is not 100% fit but he played his heart out.
In doubt for next week is West mid fielder Daniel Milne who appears to be struggling with a groin injury. Milne has been one of the Robins’ best this year and they will be hoping he can overcome his injury.
The season now moves to September and Finals time. For West and South they will prepare for Saturday and a game where a Grand Final berth is up for grabs.
For the loser the year is over.
Final Score: South 24.21 (165) West 5.6 (36)
Best Players: (South) Heath Caldwell (Best On Ground), Dustin Stephens, Michael Vlatko, Marcus O’Brien, Allan Mackiewicz, Hamish Wood, Cohen Caldwell, Jordan Staker, Jayson Higgins.
(West) Heath Teelow, Heath Harris, John Blore, Nick Agius, Jordan Tonkin.
Goalkickers: (South) Marcus O’Brien (5), Hamish Wood (4), Cohen Caldwell (2), Cody Schorn (2), Todd Davidson (2), Ty Corey (2), Jordan Staker (2), Clinton Keenan (2), Heath Caldwell (1), Phil Neal (1), Michael Vlatko (1).
(West) Jordan Tonkin (2), Brett Martin (1), Matt Nelson (1), Kiernan McCunnie (1).
RESERVE GRADE: South 18.8 (116) defeated West 1.2 (8)