Cats illustrate wet-weather credentials

ALLANSFORD is intent on proving the Warrnambool and District league flag race is far from a fait accompli.

Allansford forward Justin Nowell gets lift-off for a chest mark at Merrivale in the second quarter, with a little assistance from teammate Dave Pullen. 140705DW51 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

Allansford forward Justin Nowell gets lift-off for a chest mark at Merrivale in the second quarter, with a little assistance from teammate Dave Pullen. 140705DW51 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

The third-ranked Cats emerged as the main threat to a Panmure three-peat after thrashing second-ranked Merrivale at Merrivale Recreation Reserve.

The 13.15 (93) to 5.8 (38) result was in little doubt after the blue-and-white hoops rushed to a wind-assisted 4.6 to 0.3 lead at quarter-time.

The early burst became valuable when they held the Tigers to 2.2 in the second term and managed 2.2 themselves, despite kicking into the breeze.

A sense of deja vu hung over the match thereafter, the result all but confirmed. The visitors dominated the third term, squared the last and the rain kept falling.

The performance went some way to dismissing a perception the Cats are vulnerable in the wet against top-quality opposition.

Two of their three defeats this season had come in June, despite having a list laden with strong-bodied players suited to physical football.

“There’s obviously been some questions about our form in the wet. It was something I wasn’t prepared to give into,” coach Josh Parkinson said.

“We played some really good footy in the wet last year. Even though it wasn’t the wettest day (on Saturday), it was still greasy.”

Almost on cue, those wet-weather types— Nick Johnstone, Kye Bunworth, Parkinson, Brett Membrey and Sam Burchell — stood tall.

Their size and strength was telling, particularly in the second quarter when the Tigers needed to capitalise with the wind.

Johnstone was the pick. Club statisticians had him finishing with 31 disposals and three goals, while Parkinson also booted three goals.

Darren Kelly was the other tall Cat to have a major impact. He kicked just one early goal  but made his presence felt throughout.

Allansford had six goals on the board, including superb set shots from Justin Nowell and Parkinson, before Merrivale opened its account through James Kelly.

Joe Woonton added a second for the hosts moments before half-time but whatever faint hope existed quickly died soon after the long break.

Parkinson converted a Leatham Robe pass two minutes in, before a Burchell snap sneaked through with the aid of a shepherd from Nowell on the line. James Fary momentarily stopped the rot thanks to a 50-metre penalty but Johnstone made the score 9.10 to 3.6 with the goal of the day.

The former J. A. Esam Medal winner dished off a handball on the wing, received the return and bounced through a kick from 60 metres.

Johnstone was, in essence, the type of player Merrivale didn’t have, although the efforts of the exceptional James Kelly cannot be underplayed.

Alister Porter was also prolific and clean, while Woonton did well on a day not suited to forwards. Few other Tigers could hold their heads high.

“Take nothing away from them, they were harder, they wanted the footy more, their skills were better,” Merrivale coach Karl Dwyer said.

“We were at the other end, our skills were pretty ordinary, we turned the footy over a lot.”

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