2017 Round 13 v Port Adelaide at MMH Oval - Novita Game
BULLDOGS BURN BRIGHT
By Robert Laidlaw
Most supporters, deflated by the previous week's effort against South Adelaide and up against a Port Adelaide side with 21 AFL-listed players, would not have expected too much from Central District in round 13 of the SANFL at Elizabeth, but the Bulldogs burned bright.
There was a glow about the way Central started the game, and even though some inaccuracy in the second term could have been counter-productive to the effort exerted, the Dogs still led by nine points at half time and played a killer third to seal the deal.
It was an amazing effort from the home side, against a team sitting second on the table before the round began, and also demonstrated what Central could have been capable of if it had a few more wins in the tank.
A feature of the match was the number of contenders for goal of the game, as the Bulldogs worked in packs and took their chances, with sufficient rewards to claim the two premiership points.
Central included four players for this game who hadn't played the previous week – Fraser Fort, Chris Jansen, Sam Hanna and Josh Glenn – and they all accumulated 25-plus possessions, which was a huge fillip.
The first quarter saw the magic start early, when first Justin Hoskin nailed a quick snap from 30m in the game's first minute, to have what appeared the goal of the game.
But just three minute later, Sam Milne must have been sprinkled with some type of wizard dust, as he booted an incredible goal, under pressure from a near impossible spot, to actually put Hoskin's effort in second position.
Another major from Kyle Presbury at the 10 minute mark had the Dogs flying, although Port answered with two quick goals to bring the game back a bit.
Trav Schiller then kicked an important goal to wrest the momentum back, with Sam Hanna's long shot extending the lead to 20 points, before a Port goal into time on saw Central lead 5-4 to 3-1 at the first break.
While Port booted a goal to open the second term, and another to end it, Central dominated all the play in between, but was wasteful, with a return of just six behinds, to see the lead shrink to nine points, 5-10 to 5-1.
It seemed Central may have kicked away its chances, as the AFL reserves squads are perceived to have a huge fitness advantage because of the nature of that competition, but there was something special about how the Dogs went about their business, and that flame of hope was still burning.
There was a huge melee after the half time siren, which saw virtually all players on the field involved. Hopefully no reports of any Bulldogs will be sustained.
What transpired in the third term was arguable the best effort by Central this season, with four unanswered goals to no score, to set up what should have been a match-winning 33-point lead.
Goals from Glenn and Hoskin through the first 15 minutes were steadying, while on the cusp of time on, Murray Stephenson, who had been sensational in defense, found himself up forward close to goal after taking a mark, and converted his first major in his 48th game for the Dogs.
And a few minutes later, the actual winner of the goal of the game was produced by Isaya McKenzie, although there was a lot of luck involved. His long quick kick towards goal was heading to the boundary line, with a group of players chasing, but a 'Shane Warne leg-break' supplied the needed 'magic' to gain honours.
It was an unbelievable period, as only four goals were kicked in the third term, all by the home side, for Central to lead 9-10 to 5-1 at lemons.
Not happy with his goal to finish the third quarter's scoring, McKenzie then opened the final stanza with a sensational pack mark, on his chest! He converted to put another nail in Port's coffin.
Then except for McKenzie's gem, John Butcher would have taken goal of the game honours at the five minute mark of the last term, when, in heavy traffic and under extreme pressure, he remained cool as he gathered the ball and snapped from near the boundary, which had a trajectory that split the big white up-rights.
At the 15 minute mark of the final term Port kicked its first major since the second quarter, which started a five-goal barrage, reducing Central's final winning margin to 16 points, 11-13 to 10-3.
There were so many players who deserved to make the best players list, in what was the closest thing to an “all played well” the Bulldogs have been near all season.
Several key factors made a difference in the end, with dynamo Nick Holman leading the charge from the stoppages with his aggressive style, while Travis Schiller and Jansen gave wonderful support.
Ruckman Jack Hannath's form over the past month has been a huge boost, while Stephenson – when he's not kicking goals – has been a rock in leading a tight defense.
Now it's off to play another top three side, when Central travel to Unley to meet the reigning premier, Sturt.
* * * * *
Central District 5-4 5-10 9-10 11-13 (79)
Port Adelaide 3-1 5-1 5-1 10-3 (63)
Best: Jansen, T. Schiller, Holman, Hoskin, Hannath, Glenn, Stephenson, Hanna, F. Fort, Goodrem, McKenzie, Haydon.
Goals: Hoskin 2, McKenzie 2, Milne, Presbury, T. Schiller, Hanna, Glenn, Stephenson, Butcher.
|Chris Jansen getting his kick away|
|Nick Holman setting himself for a strong contested grab|
|Travis Schiller, sizing up his options|
FOR A FULL GALLERY OF IMAGES FROM THE WEEKEND'S GAME CLICK HERE
TO SEE A HIGHLIGHTS VIDEO OF THE WEEKEND'S ACTION CLICK HERE
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