Willunga Outclass Strath
In the battle of the red and whites on a perfect autumn day it was the home team who controlled the game for 90% of the match. Willunga deserved their 12-goal victory after responding to a significant second quarter challenge from Strathalbyn.
Bass marked unopposed to kick Willunga’s first at the one-minute mark. The umpires were consistent in that they paid many ticky-touch-wood free kicks (63 in total) across the four quarters. and handed out several 25-metre penalties. Strath’s Kelsh benefitted from the first these to slot Strath’s opening goal then O’Grady kicked a second from another penalty. It took until the 17-minute mark for Willunga to equalise with a second Bass goal. From that moment on, they were never headed. The ball travelled up and down the ground for the next 5-minutes before Warmington kicked two in 2-minutes after exciting rebound defence by Burdett and Haskett. With seconds remaining in the quarter, an attempt to rough up the Willunga captain, Fenton, led to a melee. Out of that, Beath was thrown to the ground and awarded a free kick. He gave off to the hard-running Burdett who goaled from close to 50.
The second quarter was dominated by Willunga for the first 25-minutes. They kicked five unanswered goals through Hoffman, Hunt, Bass, Beath and a booming 60-metre cannonball from Standfield. The Demons were up and running, the home team spectators were tasting victory, and the sun was shining on the green Willunga turf. All was right with the world until an avalanche hit – an avalanche of Strathalbyn goals. It started innocuously: Machin marked and kicked truly to ironic Strath supporter cheers then he booted another after a quick kick out of the centre square by Elliot. Strath’s confidence surged. Big Pegler marked and goaled then won a tap to Elliot who kicked another. Suddenly there was renewed life in the game, especially after Fox was awarded a free kick at 40-metres just as the siren sounded. He went back, kicked accurately and was mobbed by his team-mates. Willunga walked into the sheds with a 2-goal lead but must have felt they were behind because of the 5-goals in 5-minutes surge by the visitors.
The ball rocketed from one end of the ground to the other in the opening minutes of the second half. Both sides failed to capitalise on their chances until Bass took the ball in a pack, tapped it to Standfield who snapped around the corner for a Willunga goal. A minute later Meigel gave to Renney who kicked long and straight. The move of Mills into ruck moved the momentum back into Willunga’s favour. Hutchinson’s pace and Fenton’s tenacity allowed Willunga to take advantage of Mills’s tap-work in the centre square. Haskett sent a bullet-like pass to Beath who marked strongly overhead, went back and goaled. Then Hunt, who had played a significant first half, won a hard ball and got it to Nelson who slammed it onto his boot. The ball floated over the back of upstretched hands and bounced through for a well-deserved goal. When Hoffman kicked a 6th unanswered goal for the quarter, the game was Willunga’s despite the outstanding defence of Strath’s Butler and Redden, both of whom used their run and long attacking kicks to give their forwards opportunities.
Willunga outplayed Strath 4 goals to 1 in the last quarter. Hunt took a strong pack mark and powered it through the big sticks then Fenton snapped around his body to bring up his first senior goal for the club. Mason kicked Strath’s only goal for the second half after a long attacking kick by Butler forced a Willunga defensive error. Burdett continued to dominate across half-back for Willunga, ably supported by the Scott brothers. Burdett side-stepped two Strath opponents, drove the ball long and low into the forward lines where Mils took a contested overhead mark, went back and goaled. Nelson capped off a strong game with a run-down tackle which allowed Hoffman to run free and boom a long goal from the 50-metre line.