Bulldogs derail a juggernaut

June 27, 2017

EVERY DOG has its day, and that day was Saturday for Strathmerton Football Club.

The Bulldogs handed Picola United its first loss in 18 games, including finals, in the Picola and District Football League since it was rolled by Strathmerton by two points back in round 10 last year.

After losing by just four points in their first-round encounter this year the Bulldogs returned with a vengeance, running out the game as 10-point winners on their home ground.

It was now one United would be looking to get back on Strathmerton as the rivalry continues.

Coach Jon Varcoe pinned it as a close contest going into Saturday’s clash and he wasn’t wrong with no more than two goals separating teams throughout the game.

‘‘It was a real arm wrestle all day,’’ Varcoe said.

‘‘It’s what we were expecting going in and was again a very physical, contested game.

‘‘We’ve always known it was pretty even between the top sides and the game (on Saturday) showed that.

‘‘To Strathy’s credit they were a bit better on the day, but we took it to them right to the end.’’

Both sides were incredibly defensive in their method, which meant for a low-scoring game.

Teams kicked just one goal each in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs had their chances to create greater scoreboard pressure with four behinds.

They were up by three points at the break and managed to break away slightly in the second term kicking 3.1 to 2.1, extending the margin to nine points at half-time.

Strathmerton kept on top in the third and defended better than United through stages, something Varcoe hoped to build upon in coming weeks.

‘‘Lots of little things probably didn’t work for us (on Saturday),’’ Varcoe said.

‘‘But if we could’ve generated more inside 50s through cleaner and better ball use it would’ve helped us get a lot more opportunities up forward.

‘‘Our forwards and mids still aren’t working together as well as we would like and we can still improve on our pressure and speed in getting back to defend.’’

United had the momentum in the fourth quarter but ran out of time in the end and was unable to make up the 16-point margin at three-quarter-time, Strathmerton holding on for the win 9.8 (62) to 8.4 (52).

Rhys Woodland was a standout in the backline, but it was the midfield which kept United in the game with Clinton Barnes, Marcus Walsh and Adam Jorgensen named in the bests.

Taylor Beard was instrumental in the forward line, kicking three goals, and Travis Morgan made a return to the seniors after being ill the week before.

Varcoe said he brought plenty of experience to the side in his ruck duties and was competitive in close matches.

‘‘It was pretty even across the board with no one player really standing out,’’ Varcoe said.

‘‘We were lucky to get through unscathed, but we won’t know for sure until the boys get through their recovery.’’

Picola United meets Berrigan at home this weekend and Varcoe said it would need to improve on shutting them down if its to avoid another loss.

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