SUPER Saturday proved aptly named for host Terang Mortlake, which chose the big-stage occasion to snare its maiden win of the season and snap Koroit’s unbeaten streak along the way.
It was icy cold at Terang Recreation Reserve for the joint league initiative, but the Bloods took no time to warm up and blazed ahead to win 13.12 (90) to 10.10 (70).
Spectators, and there were many of them, could have been excused for wondering if the sides had switched jumpers before running onto the park.
Terang Mortlake, which went into the match zip and three, played like a premiership favourite, while the previously unbeaten Koroit lacked discipline and energy.
Perhaps it was the Saints’ six-day turnaround after playing the Sunday before, or perhaps it was merely Terang Mortlake’s time to shine after weeks of promise.
Whatever it was, first-year Bloods coach Shane Threlfall was delighted with the result and received a good ol’ fashioned dunking by his players after singing It’s A Grand Old Flag with gusto.
“It was a fantastic effort,” a drenched Threlfall told The Standard post-match.
“We’ve worked really hard now for a month and we’ve been pretty close in three games so to win one was fantastic.
“It was a really good reward for the boys that have worked their butts off for quite a while now.”
Terang Mortlake recorded the first goal of the match before Koroit eventually replied 10 minutes later.
Bloods forward Joel Crawley roamed across the Bloods’ 50, with plenty of support from Sam Holloway and Ryan O’Connor.
Signs were ominous early for the Saints, who struggled to move the ball out of defence despite the best efforts of playing-coach Chris McLaren.
The host led 5.2 (32) to 2.2 (14) at quarter-time.
Hard-working Koroit onballer Ben Goodall continued to set a high standard which his teammates failed to match.
Drew O’Grady tried his best and James Mugavin, Levi Nagorcka and Joe McLaren were never far from the action as the visitors mounted some kind of a counter attack.
But the class of Terang Mortlake defenders Damian O’Connor, Chris Baxter and Joel Moloney repelled the ball enough to keep the Bloods in front 7.5 (49) to 4.6 (30) at half-time.
“Our defenders were fantastic. They killed everything in the air,” Threlfall said.
“I was really pleased with the first quarter and the third and most oif the last. I thought we had a flat spot in the second.”
Terang Mortlake had space to burn in the third term, moving the Sherrin down the oval as it would of a Tuesday and Thursday night at training.
Tiwi Islands import Jason Puruntatameri earned his own highlight reel, as did plucky teenager Nathan Sargeant, who bagged his third entertaining goal late in the quarter with an impossible snap from the boundary.
Koroit’s Dobson brothers Sam and Ben linked up on numerous occasions but it was all Terang Mortlake, who led 11.8 (74) to 8.8 (58) at the last change. Chris McLaren held his players in the three-quarter-time huddle long after the Bloods broke from theirs.
His words of encouragement, or otherwise, appeared to spark something in Koroit as Chris Chambers bagged two and Sam Dobson another within minutes.
Damian O’Connor ventured up the ground as the Saints got within two kicks, which steadied the ship.
The visitors fumbled defensive kick-ins and gave the Bloods free range in front of goal late in the term. Koroit’s defenders could do nothing but put their hands on their heads in despair.
“In such an even competition, when it’s your turn to have a good patch you need to score goals,” Threlfall said.
“We were lucky enough to do that and I thought Koroit might have missed a few that they might have got in previous weeks.”
Koroit assistant coach Ben Parkinson said it was a “poor” effort by the Saints, who had impressed in the opening three rounds.
“It was a big day for Terang, with the Super Saturday, and they obviously hadn’t won a game for the season,” he said.
“They came out and they played really, really well.
“Their pressure was the best that we’ve felt all year, in the four games that we’ve played, and that certainly showed in all areas of the game.”