It was a bit of reward for them boys, just the way we want to play, it just showed if we do play that way it can work.- Dustin McCorkell
Port Fairy supporters were given a glimpse of a promising future after its senior group produced a strong first hit-out for 2023 on Saturday.
The Seagulls, who are coming off a winless 2022 Hampden league campaign, controlled the contest from start-to-finish against Portland in a scratch match at Gardens Oval.
First-year Seagulls coach Dustin McCorkell was pleased to see his players implement ideas they had been working hard on over the summer.
"It was a bit of reward for them boys, just the way we want to play, it just showed if we do play that way it can work," he said.
The Seagulls kicked six unanswered goals in the opening term - and 22 for the match - while holding Portland to just three for the day. While the second and third terms were fairly even, the floodgates opened in the fourth, with the Seagulls slotting nine goals to one.
With the Seagulls impressing with their forward ball movement forward and ability to hit the scoreboard on Saturday, defence remains a key focus under McCorkell leading into round one.
"All the good teams in the competition are good at defence," he said. "We're making sure if we're not being used we're looking to defend and hopefully try and limit the amount the opposition scores because I think last year we averaged 160 points against.
"Hopefully if we get a bit of a turnover we can move the ball and have some young kids who can hopefully get on the end of it."
New recruit Tyson McIlwain impressed with his ruck work but was equally productive behind the play and with his ground work.
"I said to Tyson, and also big Jake Bartlett, they competed well for us in the air but they worked hard below their knees as well," McCorkell said. "They competed, and that's all we want is a contest from the big guys."
McIlwain's presence at the contest freed skipper Matt Sully up to play predominately in defence, where he and Colin Harwood looked a level above.
"We're playing a little different to what they've done in the past so just to get their heads around that, was really good," McCorkell said.
Several of the Seagulls' younger cohort - Radush Mohan, Oscar Pollock and Ollie Myers - showed plenty of flair though the midfield and up forward.
"They just love their footy those boys and they've got themselves fit and putting their hands up to play seniors round one," the coach said.
The match had its first injury during the opening bounce - with Isaac Martin coming off after a knock to the face - with both sides suffering minor injuries throughout the day.
The Seagulls were without gun forward recruit Jason Rowan, while Kaine Mercovich took up a role on the sideline. McCorkell said both weren't far off playing and expected them to be ready for round one.
"There were a couple others who just weren't ready to play, they were keen to play but we're really looking forward to making sure they're fit for the season," McCorkell said.
Port Fairy will host Warrnambool and District league grand finalists Panmure in a practice match on Thursday night, before welcoming Macedon to Gardens Oval on Saturday, March 18. The Seagulls open their season against South Warrnambool at home on April 1.
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