A slide in the pecking order

Tooradin will need to stop the impact of Pakenham skipper Dom Paynter when the two teams collide in a blockbuster finish to round 11 on Sunday. 176665 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By David Nagel

Isn’t it ironic … … .don’t you think!
Tooradin’s season in the WGCA Premier Division is summed up perfectly by the above lyric from Alanis Morissette’s 1996 smash hit.
In fact, if you could add another lyric to the song it would go something like this.
‘We haven’t lost a game, but we sit in second place, isn’t it ironic … don’t you think!’
The irony of Tooradin’s season continues to grow after the undefeated Seagulls fell further behind a surging Kooweerup in a weather-affected round 10 on the weekend.
The Seagulls, who won their first eight games, sat idle due to extreme heat in round nine and were denied the chance to chase Upper Beaconsfield’s (5/162) competitive score on Saturday due to the skies closing in.
Two weekends – two frustrating draws.
The Demons, meanwhile, banked a crucial win against Clyde last Sunday – escaping the heat – before scoring their ninth win on the trot (7/186dec to 4/138) against Merinda Park on Saturday.
Two weekends – two opportunistic victories.
The bottom line is the Demons have now extended their margin to 16 points over the Seagulls with four rounds left in the season.
But rather than dwell on his team’s luck, Tooradin skipper Aaron Avery preferred to heap praise on a team that he knows he will have to topple to earn a grip on this year’s cup.
“They may have had some breaks with the weather but the bottom line is they know how to win games of cricket,” Avery said.
“They had a small window on Saturday and got the job done against Merinda Park and they’ve won two outrights as well so they deserve their place on the ladder.”
The Demons were ruthless against the Cobras, with Chris O’Hara (74) cracking his fourth half-century of the season and Chris Bright (47) taking his average to 49 from his last four visits to the crease.
Peter Jessop (3/32) took top marks for the Cobras, who then crashed to a precarious 3/11 in reply, with Demons’ opener Jack Bacon (3/27) in red-hot form with the Kooka.
Mitch Thomas (54 not out), Chris Smith (33) and Jass Dhaliwal (30 not out) played defiant roles, but the Demons rushed and crushed their way to a very impressive victory.
At Upper Beaconsfield, the Seagulls were first denied by a sparkling innings from Maroons’ opener Imesh Jayasekara (91 not out), and then by the weather, the Maroons (5/162) score just a tempting target in the distance.
But despite his frustration, Avery is keeping a very level approach to the remainder of the season.
“We were pretty shattered that we couldn’t get out there and try and chase down the runs but all we can do now is keep winning and make sure we finish second,” the Seagulls skipper said.
“That’s been our goal all along, to finish top two and host a semi-final and give ourselves the best opportunity of qualifying for a grand final. Every game from this point forward needs to be played at a finals standard.”
Cardinia (8/148) was the other big winner on the weekend, with its three big-guns leading the Bulls to victory over Emerald (83) at Gunton Oval.
Te Ahu Davis (55) led the way with the willow, scoring his first half century as a Bull, before the irrepressible Dwayne Doig (4/18) cut a swathe through the Bombers top order.
The champion spinner took the first four wickets to fall before leaving some crumbs for both Alex Nooy (3/24) and Travis Wheller (2/22) to mop up. Julian Hanfi-Scott (3/26) and Jason Burns (21) were best of a poorly performed Bombers outfit.
And Pakenham and Clyde (9/129) had to settle for a draw at Toomuc Reserve.
Kane Avard (37) was top pick for the Cougars while Sean Gramc (3/27) and skipper Dom Paynter (2/19) were at the top of their games for the Lions.
Tooradin and Pakenham will be playing for a lot more than 12 premiership points when the Seagulls and Lions clash in the WGCA Premier Division Match of the Day at Rutter Park on Sunday.
A victory is crucial to both team’s premiership aspirations – a home final is possibly at stake – but the opportunity to raise awareness of the issues surrounding mental health give this contest extra special meaning.
Both clubs have been impacted by the condition in recent years and Tooradin skipper Aaron Avery hopes the Beyond Blue clash will help fight the battle against mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
“We’re hoping to turn this into an annual event between the clubs to help raise awareness for an issue that is really having a huge impact on the community,” Avery said.
“At Tooradin, we’ve had a couple of ex-players fall due to mental illness and Pakenham has been impacted as well. It’s out there and it affects everyone, so if we can raise awareness and make a difference to just one life it will all be worthwhile in the end.”
Tooradin is extending an open invite to the day, with activities including a jumping castle, face painting, music, raffles along with plenty of food and drinks to enjoy while watching the cricket.
The day will also include silent auction items including memorabilia, Medallion Club passes, a family Luna Park pass, Rebel Sports vouchers, cricket gear and much more.
And on-field it should be a cracker, with both teams keen to emerge as Kooweerup’s number-one challenger for this year’s title.
“We always look forward to the games against Pakenham, we match up well with each other and they’re always pretty close games,” Avery said, before identifying the key to rolling the Lions on Sunday.
“They’re a bit like us, a very even team, but Dom Paynter is probably the most dangerous. He comes in at five or six, and if they’re in trouble he brings them back in it, and if they’re on top he puts the foot down and puts them ahead of the game.
“But they’ve got plenty of good players. Smithy’s (Chris Smith) dangerous and due for a big score, Chappy (Zac Chaplin) has had good year and Robbie Elston is always hard to get out.
“But we’re really confident. We’ve probably worried too much about the opposition in the past but now we’re just focussing on what we need to do.”
Avery is hoping a team-first mentality will lead the Seagulls to their first grand final appearance since their last premiership success in 2013.
“As a team we’re combining really well and not relying on one or two players to get us across the line,” he said.
“Huss (Tom Hussey) has obviously had a great year but most of the other batsmen have chipped in and made some important runs at times.”
In other games, Cardinia make the toughest road trip to Kooweerup, Clyde will look to keep its finals hopes alive against Merinda Park at Lineham Oval, while Emerald host Upper Beaconsfield in a must-win clash for both clubs.


Kooweerup 10 9 1 0 124 2.26
Tooradin 10 8 0 2 108 1.79
Pakenham 10 6 2 2 92 1.45
Cardinia 10 4 5 1 62 0.96
Upper Beaconsfield 10 3 5 2 48 0.9
Clyde 10 3 6 1 42 0.66
Merinda Park 10 1 8 1 18 0.66
Emerald 10 1 8 1 18 0.5