MERRIVALE has made the boldest statement of its season intentions by turning a blockbuster against Dennington into a one-sided rout.
The Tigers had 35 scoring shots to 14 in thrashing the Dogs 14.21 (105) to 9.5 (59) at Merrivale Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
The defeat was enough to have Dennington coach Ben Parkinson pondering the serious gap between two genuine flag contenders.
Parkinson said the Tigers “smacked us, they absolutely outplayed us” and gave his men “a bit of a lesson” throughout.
He said the Dogs’ soft start to the season — they were unbeaten and had a percentage of 316.78 after four rounds — played a role in the loss.
“They’re going to be hard to beat, we’ve got a lot of improvement to make ... it was definitely a step-up and we knew that before the game,” he said.
“But the difference that was to the teams we had played was huge. They were very clean with the footy, they used the ball smartly.”
Merrivale coach Karl Dwyer said the importance of the win was not lost on his side. The Tigers had already lost to one finals contender in Allansford.
“We really needed it. If we had dropped that, they would’ve been two games clear. I know it’s only round five but it’s shaken up the ladder,” he said.
“We play those four sides — Dennington, Allansford, Panmure and (Old) Collegians twice. Sooner or later you have to start winning them.”
Jet Dowie kicked five goals to take his season tally to 27. The Tigers spearhead is averaging more than six a game since going goalless in round one. Josh Guiney kicked three while Josh Sobey, Sam Gleeson and James Kelly were also influential in allowing their side to spread the ball from stoppages.
“They’ve had some easy wins and I suppose we have as well, but they might not have been used to that pressure,” Dwyer said.
“We thought if we could really put them under the pump early, it might swing the momentum in our favour. That was the most pleasing thing.”
Key defender Darcy Lewis was the Dogs’ best for his role on Joe Woonton, one of the match-ups of the season to date.
Midfielder Jordan Greene, forward Tully Allwood — who kicked three goals — and defender Peter Doukas also battled hard in the defeat.
Elsewhere, a seven-goal opening term paved the way for finals contenders Kolora-Noorat to return to the winner’s list.
The Power claimed their third win in five matches by beating Deakin University 20.13 (133) to 11.12 (78), thanks to a 7.2 to 1.2 first term kicking into the breeze.
Kolora-Noorat coach Ben Kenna said his men played “as well as we’ve played” during the opening month of the season.
“We were just a bit sharper and probably first in for the footy more so than other weeks,” he said.
“We made good decisions, our execution was better. We were pretty good with our handballing, our kicking skills were up.”
Stephen O’Connor was best afield playing through the midfield while Scott Judd (two goals) earned credit for his work up forward. Damien Wynd and Martin Wynd kicked three goals each. Joe O’Sullivan, Michael Sleeman, Tom Kenna and Matthew Fidge also contributed well.
For the Sharks, hard nut Luke Frosko and key tall Mitch Hodgson (three goals) led the way along with Alex Kydd and Aiden Bourke.
In other matches, Allansford continued its percentage-boosting fortnight by beating Russells Creek 25.15 (165) to 9.6 (60) at Allansford Recreation Reserve.
Sam Holloway, Dave Pullen and Ben Lenehan kicked five goals each and were in the Cats’ best along with Nick Johnstone and Darren Kelly.
Damian Osborne led the Kangaroos’ scoring with four goals. Onballers Ben Jansen and Shaun McDougall were their best.