Cats turn the tables on Dogs

Spoilsport: Allansford defender Brett Membrey prepares to foil the marking attempt of Dennington key forward Darcy Lewis.

Spoilsport: Allansford defender Brett Membrey prepares to foil the marking attempt of Dennington key forward Darcy Lewis.

THE path to redemption can be a long and painful one.

When Allansford went down to Dennington by 70 points just a fortnight ago, the doomsayers had them as pretenders and not up for the fight.

But a kink in the fixture meant they only had to suffer this scorn for 14 days before getting another crack at the Dogs.

On Saturday they took this opportunity with both hands, inflicting a convincing 53-point defeat on the Dogs, 19.9 (123) to 10.10 (70).

The last time they met these teams slugged it out in ankle-deep mud at Dennington, but it was a very different story this time around.

The firm track at Allansford Recreation Reserve was bathed in sunshine and it was the Cats that made the early running, kicking three of the first four goals.

But the Dogs got themselves back into the contest with two goals to trail by just a point at the first change.

The Cats had shown their claws were out in the first quarter and their strong attack on the ball continued at the start of the second.

Dominance through the middle and intense forward pressure meant Dennington was unable to keep pace as the Cats slammed on the first five goals of the quarter.

This burst helped take them to a 25-point half-time lead with winners all over the ground.

Dennington moved Brandon Edwards forward to start the third quarter with immediate results as he kicked the first two goals of the quarter.

But just as it looked like the Dogs were coming, the game disappeared out of their reach.

Allansford forward Dave Pullen took a mark and, thanks to a runner error, received a 50-metre penalty to make it a certain goal.

Some backchat after the goal went through saw Pullen receive another free, which he converted, meaning the Cats had scored two goals without the ball going back to the centre.

The Cats never looked back from here with the 53-point margin a clear and accurate indication of how dominant they were.

They were desperate and well-drilled, their control in the middle of the ground playing a major part in the win.

Ruckman Darren Kelly was the star big man on the ground, taking plenty of marks around the ground as well as a swag of hit-outs which he directed beautifully to his midfielders.

Nick Johnstone was at his best, providing the Cats with plenty of grunt and drifting forward to kick three goals while another midfielder in Sam Holloway was also among the goals with five.

Their back line was hard and disciplined with only Alex Pye, with four goals, getting under their guard.

Allansford went into the game without star full-forward Justin Nowell, while Brett Membrey lined up in the backline.

The absence of this key forward firepower did not hinder the Cats, with some hard and clever small forwards giving them plenty of goalkicking options.

Pullen was the standout forward for the Cats, kicking six goals and finding plenty of ways to kick them.

Goals came his way on the run and from set and snap shots with the standout being a classic piece of roving in the first quarter, reading the ball perfectly off the hands of a contested marking contest and finishing off with a goal from 40 metres.

His coach Josh Parkinson said Pullen was an important member of his Cats’ forward six.

“He is pretty quick in a short burst and his timing to the contest is outstanding,” Parkinson said.

“He is a lot fitter than he was last year and he has really embraced that role of playing inside the 50-metre arc and being really lively for us.”

The win keeps the Cats in third place and gives them momentum ahead of a clash with Panmure this coming Saturday.

The Dogs have slipped down to fifth place and are two games away from the top three and will need to win everything from here on to get a double chance.

abrady@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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