Workmanlike Warriors take points over Rovers

Old Collegians’ Daniel Weel withstands some in-your-face pressure from South Rovers opponent Jess McCosker in a marking contest.

Old Collegians’ Daniel Weel withstands some in-your-face pressure from South Rovers opponent Jess McCosker in a marking contest.

OLD Collegians coach Daryl Beechey didn’t want anything flashy from his men when South Rovers came to Davidson Oval.

A strong southerly which blew all afternoon meant football at any level on Saturday was not going to be pretty.

The muddy turf, which was clay-like in patches, only reinforced the notion. This was a day for those who could do the basics well.

That the Warriors emerged with four points thanks to a 16.8 (104) to 6.8 (44) win and no injuries was enough to keep their coach happy.

“It’s just another tick on the board,” Beechey said post-match, with all the sense that his side was building towards something.

“We had a job to do today and that’s one of the big things we’re trying to work on; making sure we beat the sides below us and get scalps above us.

“We said to the boys today we wanted to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and we came and we did that.”

Warrnambool and District league football fans expected Old Collegians to beat South Rovers and what unfolded was hardly a surprise.

But the nature of the win reinforced a growing belief that bigger things are to come. A semi-final berth this season is a realistic proposition.

The Warriors had the ascendency all match save for the start and end of the third term, when the Lions kicked with the breeze.

Their efficient performance got going thanks to Aaron Williams, who marked an up-and-under kick and kicked truly 13 minutes in.

Lions captain Julian Claridge responded with a clever snap soon after but Warrior Chris Chambers restored the lead with a set shot. Chambers kicked another three before half-time, helping his side to a 7.5 to 1.4 lead and finished the match with six.

He was a decisive presence on the ground. But he was hardly the only one.

Colby Rix and Eli Barker were exceptional in the midfield, likewise Jack Dunkley. The three fed off ruckman Zac Pickett, who shaded Jordan Kavanagh.

Stephen Wythe and Paul Campbell directed traffic down back. Aaron Williams provided a second threat in attack. Teenager Ben Rantall was lively.

But Old Collegians didn’t have everything their own way.

South Rovers finally got reward for effort when Tom Hirst and Tom Bowman found the big sticks within the first 10 minutes of the third term.

Their majors closed the gap to 25 points. But Pickett cut short the charge by being involved in two passages which showed his worth.

The mid-season recruit converted a free kick and minutes later, palmed a ball straight down the throat of Rix who goaled on the run.

Rovers replied through Ben Ryan and Matt Wood but the match was over as a contest when Chambers grabbed his fifth before the last break.

Three goals in the first five minutes when play resumed, off the boots of Josh Stapleton, Matthew Petherick and Rix, only served to confirm it.

While Beechey celebrated a job well done, South Rovers coach Brendan Whelan was a despondent figure post-match.

He started the day confident the Lions would be competitive. But he finished it realising how far they were off the pace.

Matt McMillan was a clear standout on a wing. Onballer Braden Hotker and young gun Laughlin Cowell were also key contributors.

“I think we let the game slip early,” Whelan said. 

“We were just a little bit over keen and were caught chasing the contest instead of playing smart footy.

“It hurt, especially kicking with the breeze in the first quarter, we had to make the most of it.

“The other thing is they play pretty predictable footy. 

“If you get caught out, they’re able to go forward with ease. We were caught ball hunting,” he said.

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