ALLANSFORD has provided the first hint of its season 2014 potential by outlasting Merrivale in a testing season opener at Allansford Recreation Reserve yesterday.
The Cats kicked 4.3 to 4.4 against the wind in the last quarter to score a 12.11 (83) to 10.14 (74) win — a triumph which could yet prove its worth in weeks to come.
Recruit Justin Nowell was among the heroes for the hosts. He kicked two goals in the final term to finish with three for the match.
The first, a set shot after he outmarked Matthew Gleeson for one of the first times in the day, gave his side a 23-point lead — the biggest of the match.
The second was a snap from near the left-hand point post at the southern end which ended a run of three Merrivale goals.
Dave Pullen grabbed the sealer in controversial circumstances, goaling after Sam Holloway had played on with the ball seemingly out of bounds. But the narrow win was the least the Cats deserved. Their efforts against the wind in the last term were game-changing while they were far better going into attack.
Key forwards Nowell and Brad Williams combined for five goals.
While it was a modest return, they eclipsed the Tigers’ pairing of James Fary and Jet Dowie.
Fary bagged three and was lively all day but Dowie went goalless, unable to escape the clutches of Sam Doukas who was close to best afield.
Onballers Nick Johnstone and Sam Holloway — back playing after an injury-ruined 2013 — and defender Brett Membrey were also influential for the victors.
Allansford coach Josh Parkinson acknowledged the effort of Doukas on Dowie post-match, describing his match as “unbelievable”.
“Not just his spoiling efforts but getting it on the ground. He smashed him to bits to be honest,” he said.
Parkinson said the performance shut down one of the Tigers’ main avenues to goal, which proved decisive in the scheme of the match.
“It’s hard to pick the differences, to be honest. Maybe we had one more key forward up,” he said.
“Maybe our key forwards were on top of their key defenders, especially with not great delivery at times.
“You need to prepare your forwards for the worst-possible delivery because if they think it’s going to come lace-out all the time, we’re not going to compete.
“We were able to compete. We didn’t lose any one-on-ones and we were able to move it once we spoiled it.”
Merrivale coach Karl Dwyer, in charge for the first time since crossing from Koroit, said he was disappointed with his side.
The Tigers loomed as the winners when they hit the front with three consecutive goals against the wind in the third term, two going to Fary.
But they conceded the next three and trailed by 10 points at the last break after Dowie missed a shot on the siren.
“The positive is we got better as the game went on and we weren’t too far away at the end, even though I think there’s a lot of improvement to go,” Dwyer said.
Exacerbating the defeat was ruckman Rhys Raymond lasting less than 10 minutes in his Merrivale debut. He was subbed out for Jack Neave at quarter-time.
“I think he hurt his neck. I haven’t fully sussed him out. I’ve heard concussion and I’ve heard just neck but I’m not 100 per cent,” Dwyer said.
“Fingers crossed he’ll be right for the week. It’s pretty tight now, once they get concussed it’s a week.”