Dogs and Wickers put on show

Travis Tuck gets the ball moving forward for Berwick.



If there ever was the prototype advertisement for a new era of local footy in the Outer East, it came on Sunday at 2.10pm at the Wandin Football Ground.

Wandin and Berwick, the two premiers of their respective leagues in 2018, put on an absolute show, combining for an astonishing 41 goals on the way to a combined 272-point match.

It’s the first of what looms as many intriguing battles the two heavyweights are set to engage in in 2019, and it’s one hell of standard that they’ve set.

Dubbed by several as one of the ‘great games of local football in memory’ the Dogs and Wickers were virtually neck-and-neck in seesawing shootout where both wanted to show who’s really the new big boss of the competition, but in the end, the men from the Kennel emerged victorious in a statement that simply can’t be ignored.

Obvious right from the opening bounce, the Doggies and Wickers both looked to relish the contest. In an opening quarter where little separated the two clubs, the home side held a slender five-point lead, before the Wickers – largely sparked by the brilliance of Harry Money (five goals) once again – wrestled back the momentum at half-time to snatch back the lead.

What it meant to secure the vital opening round points was evident, with a passionate melee at the half time siren after big man and best afield Daniel Gorringe slotted his third in what loomed as a match-winning debut for the club.

The smaller dimensions of the ground seemed to really play to the advantage of the Dogs, with Nick Adam’s side playing the ground perfectly, not allowing the Wickers’ usual spring and space off half-back to have any real impact, with the losses of Bryce Rutherford and Luke Sheppard to long-term injuries causing some concern.

Another dominant quarter from the former Gold Coast and Carlton ruckman Gorringe saw the Dogs surge ahead in the third, grabbing a 14-point lead heading into the final term, with the speed and class of some of their prime movers starting to take real toll with the deft touches in the ruck by the big man and his marking prowess in attack a real highlight.

Despite the Wickers surging hard in a stunning, combined 12-goal term, the Doggies held firm in the vital moments to record the brilliant victory, 22.9 (141) to 19.17 (131).

The home side were superbly served by Gorringe, who slotted six in a dynamic display playing both ruck and forward to be the clear best afield, while the speed of Patrick Bruzzese and Harry Byrne, as well as great supporting roles from Justin Van Unen (two goals), John Ladner and Clinton Johnston (three goals) caused headaches for Rhys Nisbet’s side.

But the Wickers showed plenty of glimpses of their brilliance and recorded five more scoring shots, with Money once again superb overhead and on the ground on the way to another bag, Jordan Andrews and Andrew Morozoff combined superbly for six goals, while midfield dynamos Travis Tuck and Madi Andrews did all they could in the coalface despite the fanatical pressure applied all day.

A youthful Olinda Ferny Creek, meanwhile, were blown away by Narre Warren in the first term at home to go down by 57-points, 10.10 (70) to 19.13 (127).

The Bloods rolled out four debutants from their Under 16 team last year to have somewhat of a new-look about them, but Matt Shinners’ group were stunning in the opening term, snagging nine unanswered goals to walk into the first break with a commanding 51-point lead.

It was a bit more even thereafter, with the Magpies and Bloods both kicking 10 goals apiece in the final three quarters, with forward Daniel Jackson making the most of his opportunities to snag seven goals for the victors, while Aaron Wilson (three goals), Michael Collins and Nathan Foote were all instrumental.

Showing some excellent signs after quarter time, the Bloods were well served by Josh Wallis, Marcus Hottes and Nick Keegan (three goals), but will be desperate to put the slow start behind them into their next game.

In the other game, Upwey Tecoma were just far too strong for Healesville, 5.13 (43) to 14.18 (102), with the Tigers getting their season off to a brilliant start.

Woori Yallock had the bye.

With the whole round enjoying a week off this weekend due to Easter, Round 2 will begin on Thursday 25 April for the Anzac Day clash between Berwick and Healesville, and then on Saturday 27 April, Narre Warren will host Beaconsfield, Olinda Ferny Creek travel to take on Upwey Tecoma, while Wandin hosts Woori Yallock, with Cranbourne having the bye.