‘Prime’ time on Easter Saturday

Tik-Tok sensation, Tom ‘Prime Train’ Baulch, kicked eight goals for Phillip Island against Warragul Industrials on Saturday. 398176 Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS

By David Nagel

It was prime time for the ‘Prime Train’ to shine at the Cowes Recreation Reserve on Easter Saturday with Tik-Tok sensation Tom Baulch booting eight goals for Phillip Island in a 63-point victory over Warragul Industrials.

A traditionally large Easter crowd ventured to the island with added excitement; with Baulch’s one-off game adding further luster to the opening day of the season.

Baulch’s eight-goals – all coming before three-quarter time – helped the Bulldogs to a dominant 17.15(117) to 7.12(54) victory.

It was a good day in front of the big sticks for new Phillip Island faces, with Aaron Harris booting two on his Bulldogs debut.

Travis Woodfield also slotted two for the winners, while Jaymie Youle matched that output in his first game back from long-term injury.

With Hayden Bruce in dominant form around the ground, the Bulldogs led by eight points at quarter time before extending their lead with a four-goal-to-two second term.

The Bulldogs then hammered home their advantage, booting six goals to one in the third to take a 51-point lead to the final break.

The Patullo boys – Jesse and Jordy – were influential figures for the winners, while Charlie Bruce and the underrated Max Walton also showed their class.

The Dusties conceded 14 goals to five after quarter time; but will benefit greatly for the run, with seven new faces in a side that last played on semi-final day last year.

Anthony Munkara showed promising signs, booting three, while Kyle Beveridge kicked two and star veterans Shane Brewster and Luke Walker one apiece.

Travis Ogden and Michael Debenham – Team of the Year members in 2023 – were other Dusties to hold their heads high amid Baulch’s onslaught.

Both teams now have a week off; with the Bulldogs heading to Nar Nar Goon after the break, while the Dusties will look to bounce back when they welcome reigning champions Inverloch-Kongwak to Western Park.

The Sea Eagles will head to Warragul in winning form after surviving a spirited second-half comeback from Cora Lynn on their way to a 9.11(65) to 7.14(56) victory at Inverloch.

Cora Lynn capitalised on the late withdrawal of Sea Eagles coach Tom Hams, through illness, to lead by a solitary point at the first break.

But the Sea Eagles kicked into gear in the second term, with Taite Cumming proving prominent in a 4.3 to 1.2 stanza.

Xavier Hughes held Cobras dangerman Nathan Gardiner goalless in the first half, while Tom Wyatt, Dylan Clark and Andy Soumilas were typically consistent around the ground.

The Sea Eagles took a three-goal lead to half time, and looked home after Jordan Tomas broke an 18-minute deadlock in the third quarter, from a tight angle, to open up a 25-point lead.

But the Cobras refused to concede, building momentum through the likes of Heath Briggs, Jimmy Munro, Tristan Warkuss and Billy Thomas to make a late charge in the third.

Gardiner kicked his first in time-on, before Liam Taylor slotted another to make it an 11-point ball game at the final break.

The Cobras conceded an early goal in the last goal, with Jarvis Harvey kicking his second of the game from the goal-line after receiving a 50-metre penalty.

Chase Blackwood answered quickly for the Cobras, who had their chances to pull off a surprise result.

But misses to Cory Machaya, Gardiner, Matt Ryan and Luke Hartley proved costly in the final stages.

Former Catani, Casey and Balwyn star Paul Pattison then showed how it was done; booting a long goal at the 15-minute mark to rubber-stamp a very impressive debut for his new club.

Heath Briggs cut the margin to nine points, but the Sea Eagles held on – despite having one less scoring shot.

Sea Eagles star Lewis Rankin; who handballed to Pattison for his goal, was thrilled to get away with the four points.

“That was a very, very good win, we’re pretty pumped about that one,” Rankin said post-match.

“It’s been a quick little turnaround (since the grand final), but it’s nice to be back and running around with 22 good mates.”

Rankin said preparations were affected when coach Hams fell ill, leading into the match.

But the calming influence of co-coach Leigh Cole came to the fore.

“Hamsy was pretty crook last night, he was absolutely shattered, he loves his footy and he’s been building up to crack in again this year,” Rankin explained.

“It’s a bit different with your coach going down; Leigh and him are chopping and changing, who’s doing week to week, and this was his (Hams) week, so Leigh did a good job stepping in.

“But we missed him off half back, with his penetrating kick, but we have these young boys coming in and filling those roles.”

Rankin wasn’t surprised at all to see the Cobras rally late in the third quarter.

“They come hard; that’s what they do, when they come hard, they come home hard and fast,” Rankin said.

“We knew that, and that was our big thing today, to control the ball, but we couldn’t get it out of our hands to get a kick; they did really well.”

The star defender said the unfurling of the 2023 premiership flag was a great moment for the club, but the focus was now on replicating those deeds in 2024.

“It’s a special thing to see that, but we’re in a mindset now; yes, last year was awesome, it was one of the most special days you could have, playing footy and netball, but we have moved on and we’re looking to do it again this year,” he said.

The two games on Easter Saturday were brought forward from round four; with a full complement of round-one matches to take place on Saturday 13 April.

Round 1 Fixture: Warragul Industrials v Inverloch-Kongwak, Kooweerup v Dalyston, Garfield v Bunyip, Kilcunda-Bass v Korumburra-Bena, Nar Nar Goon v Phillip Island. Night Game: Cora Lynn v Tooradin-Dalmore (6pm).