Willunga Overpower Tigers
Saturday’s game was a must-win game for the Willunga Demons. They were strengthened by the return of six A-grade players from injury. Their skills and experience helped the home team play their best footy of the year.
Durdin kicked the opening goal of the game and put Yankalilla in front for the only time all day. Bass equalised for Willunga two-minutes later then Lee set up Beath who kicked the Demons’ second. James had two chances for the Tigers but both shots drifted wide. Willunga’s B-Brigade – Bass, Beath and Burdett – then asserted themselves and took the game away from Yank. Beath won a hard ball and passed to Portlock whose helicopter kick wobbled through the big uprights. Burdett dominated across half-back and Cook was dangerous across half-forward with his hard running and strong marking. Brown, playing his 150th game for Willunga, found space and passed to Portlock who found Cook. He kicked his first for the day to give the home team a 16-point lead in a competitive first quarter.
The second quarter was dominated by Willunga who played a scintillating brand of football. Portlock roved off-hands and kicked truly at the one-minute mark then Beath applied a vice-like tackle to win a free kick and goal. Bass dominated the centre square. He not only controlled the hit-outs but often won the clearances as well and denied the Tigers’ mosquito fleet, Gotch and Liddle, first use of the ball. Willunga’s tackle pressure was top-class allowing Cook and Haskett to goal before Yankalilla’s Bond took a pack mark and kicked accurately. Dawson won a hard ball for Willunga and passed to Bass resting forward. He marked strongly and kicked truly. Willunga’s defence, led by Irvine and Reid, ran the ball to space where Portlock, Miegel and Cook combined to give Brown a rare opportunity to goal. His kick split the middle: his fists pumped the air. Irvine dashed from defence and passed to Nelson who judged his handball perfectly to Haskett. He sprinted through the centre square, pushed aside a tackle, took a bounce, steadied and kicked the goal of the day from 50-metres on the run. Willunga had a match-winning 50-point lead at the long break.
Willunga were less dominant in the third quarter which they won four goals to one. Durdin opened the scoring for the visitors at the two-minute mark, just as he’d done in the first half. James, McConnell and Jesse Fitzgerald were busy for Yankalilla but no match for the confident Demons. Bass was on the end of an Altus pass and goaled. Irvine intercepted a Tiger pass into the corridor, dashed forward and kicked a long ball to Standfield who marked and kicked his first for the game. Then Nelson and Beath forced the ball forward to Haskett who goaled.
Willunga added to their 69-point three-quarter lead within minutes of the start of the last quarter. Portlock showed vintage form to rove the ball front-and-centre and handball to Beath who kicked his second for the game. A light drizzle fell for the next fifteen minutes and the standard of play slipped. A loose, defensive Willunga handball allowed Hogben to swoop and goal around his body. Nelson moved the ball forward for Willunga and Lee kicked his first before Jesse Fitzgerald kicked Yankalilla’s last goal for the day. With only a minute remaining, Bass cleared the ball forward through Portlock who gave to Brown then Nelson. He kicked to the hot-spot. A desperate Yankalilla defender tried to handball back through the goals but his attempt fell short: Haskett swooped and kicked the easiest goal of the day to seal a twelve-goal win for the Demons.
Both Yankalilla and Willunga now sit at 3 wins, 3 losses with three minor round games to go. The battle for a top five spot will go down to the wire.