SOUTH Warrnambool ended a 17-game losing streak with a stunning win over premiership contender Portland on Saturday but it was debutant Kyden Jarvis who stole the limelight.
The 16-year-old kicked five goals and was the talk of the South Warrnambool rooms after the 11.13 (79) to 10.7 (67) triumph at a muddy Friendly Societies’ Park.
His fifth goal, an opportunistic snap from the left forward pocket at the eastern end of the ground in the last quarter under intense pressure, was inspirational. Key forward Robbie Gregg laid a bruising tackle, creating a loose ball 15 metres out from goal. The goal gave the Roosters a 12-point lead and came just moments after the Tigers got within a goal.
Coach Matthew Monk was delighted with his side’s spirit, withstanding the Tigers in the closing stages after overcoming a three-goal deficit at half-time.
“Jarvis is special, there is no doubt about that,” Monk said.
He was reluctant to single out players such was the team effort but another youngster, Ben Thornton, won high praise for his role on Portland midfielder Luke Crane, who played most of the game up forward. Crane threatened to tear the game apart with three first-quarter goals but Thornton held him to just one more in the final three terms.
The Roosters achieved the win without eight of its best 21, including match-winning midfielder Zacc Struth, who was a late withdrawal after failing to overcome an ankle injury.
“Going into the game with eight changes, one could have been a bit ‘oh well, it’s going to be tough’ but I was really confident the eight coming in were really keen,” Monk said.
“I am very, very proud, very proud of the boys. To come in and show an effort like that was great.”
Monk was thrilled with his side’s fight.
“It was great they sniffed a win in the end. You could see they sniffed a win and said ‘no, no, we want to win this’. In the last 12 months there have been times when they didn’t have the ability to sniff a win, we were in front but they didn’t sniff a win. They were just fantastic.
“It’s exciting but quite quickly we have to realise we have another game and that’s Port Fairy.”
Portland coach Jake Myles, a late withdrawal because of a calf complaint suffered at interleague training last Wednesday night, said his side had to rebound against Camperdown on Saturday.
“You just have to learn that when you have a team by the throat you have to put the foot down,” Myles said.
“We get two or three goals in front which is a fair bit, and we go away from what we know. That’s probably the most disappointing thing and then it turns into a scrap and then it’s anyone’s game from there.
“Full credit to them they were fantastic. When you give a team a sniff which hasn’t won in a year they get on a roll.”