MERRIVALE coach Karl Dwyer was perplexed after his Tigers produced a Jekyll and Hyde performance against Deakin University.
The Tigers defeated the Sharks by 125 points at the Pond on Saturday but were far from damaging in the early part of the match.
They led by just 21 points at the long break before breaking the shackles in emphatic fashion to win 29.15 (189) to 10.4 (64).
The destructive 19.4 to 2.2 second half was the flag favourite at its best. But the first half left Dwyer pondering where his side was at.
“It was a positive how we worked through it. We were struggling at half-time so that was the biggest thing, to work through it,” Dwyer said.
“But geez, if we play like we did in that first half against a Kolora-Noorat or a Panmure or a Dennington, one of the better sides, we’d be five or six goals down and find it hard to get back into the game.
“That was a good lesson.”
Dwyer heaped praise on the undermanned Sharks for their early competitive efforts. The scoreboard read 10.11 to 8.2 at half-time.
“They started really well, had a lot of intensity and came to play. We were pretty ordinary, just front running a little bit,” he said.
“We thought we were going to win those 50-50 contests and it turned out they won more than we did.
“We were ordinary at manning them up and they put the score on the board. They dropped a loose man back, which was pretty effective.”
Brad Kelly kicked seven goals and Joe Woonton and Jet Dowie kicked six each as the Tigers’ tall trio combined for 19 of the 29 majors.
Al Porter was best afield in the midfield, while Dwyer was also impressed with Lachlan Kelly, who played his best match of the season.
Steve Byron kicked five goals to lead the way for Deakin University. Onballers Alex Kydd and Joe Higgins and key tall Moritz Maschek were its best.
Sharks assistant coach Matt Lenehan said he viewed the match as a step forward, with the first half “our best half of footy for the year”. “We took a lot of positives out of the first half. We played the brand of footy we wanted to play,” he said.
“In the second half we went back to a couple of hold habits and against a good side you can’t afford to do that.
“Our back six held up all day with the amount of ball that was pumped in there, especially late in the last quarter.”
Onballer Dylan Walsh suffered concussion early in the first quarter and is likely to miss the trip to Panmure this weekend.