Brilliant Bulldogs shake the Tigers off their scent

Panmure forward Tom White takes a well-judged mark between Merrivale defenders Joe Woonton (left) and Sean Barnes. White’s teammate Alex White scouts for crumbs.   Pictures: LEANNE PICKETT

Panmure forward Tom White takes a well-judged mark between Merrivale defenders Joe Woonton (left) and Sean Barnes. White’s teammate Alex White scouts for crumbs. Pictures: LEANNE PICKETT

PANMURE has used the halfway point of the season to send a message to the rest of the competition.  

Catch us if you can.

The Bulldogs flexed their considerable muscle on Saturday when they defeated Merrivale 16.11 (107) to 11.15 (81) at Panmure.

The game was billed as the match of the season so far but was over as a contest by quarter-time.

Panmure’s midfield domination meant it was able to produce a constant and clean feed to an active forward line.

Key forwards Tom White and Daniel Roache were causing the Tigers plenty of heartache, while Shamus O’Beirne and Shaun Griffin were in blistering form on their wings.

Tim Condon was winning the contested ball at will and Alex White and Tommy Jones were at their creative best. 

By the first break the Bulldogs had opened a 24-point lead and wasted no time continuing to control the game, kicking the first goal of the second quarter just four minutes in.

Merrivale lifted its work rate to stem the flow in a subdued second quarter.

Despite this, Panmure was still able to produce a four-goal quarter, while Merrivale could add only three behinds for the Bulldogs to lead at the long break by 46 points.

The Tigers came out with more purpose after half-time and kicked three of the first four goals to raise the hopes of their supporters.

But two goals in two minutes to Bulldogs ruckman James Keane and another soon after to White ended any hopes of a Tiger resurgence.

At the last break Panmure led by 41 points, a margin the Tigers were able to whittle down to 26 at the final siren.

Despite the Tigers’ ability to fight back late in the game, there was no denying the Bulldogs were head and shoulders above them.

Panmure has a team with few weaknesses, with each part coming together to make an impressive whole. 

While the Bulldogs have plenty of stars up forward and through the middle, they also have a defence that is far less glamorous but just as effective.

Tim McPherson, Dan Meade, Ben Meade, Michael Payne, Paddy Mahony and Paul Daley did the job in containing a potentially-dangerous Merrivale forward line.

Joe Woonton, with five goals, was the only Tiger forward who was able to get under the guard of the Bulldogs defence, albeit late in the game.

Panmure coach Simon O’Keefe acknowledged the important role his defenders play. “We have a pretty settled back six and the boys down there know each others’ games well,” he said.

“We have our main match-ups planned but we also trust those blokes in the back line to make any adjustments that are needed as the game goes on.

“The first goal of our back line is to beat their man and then try and spread when we have the ball and hurt the opposition on the rebound.”

The win for the Bulldogs has kept them a game clear on top of the ladder but now with just Allansford on their tail.

Merrivale has slipped two games adrift of the Bulldogs and is just a game clear in third place, ahead of a chasing pack which includes Old Collegians, Dennington and Kolora-Noorat.

The Tigers this week travel to Noorat to take on the Power, while Panmure will start hot favourite to make it a perfect 10 when it takes on South Rovers at the Walter Oval.

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