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Willunga Win Local Derby

The local derby between Willunga and McLaren Vale had added spice because the teams were battling for third position. Willunga, at home, led at every break and were 1 goal 10 behinds in front at the final siren. The Demons’ inaccurate kicking for goal has plagued much of their season.

The Vale’s McKay kicked the first goal of the game when he read the ball off-hands and split the middle against a slight breeze. Willunga’s big men, Bass and Mills, steadied the ship for the home team. Their ruck and ground work across all four quarters were instrumental in their team’s competitiveness. Bass marked across half-forward and passed to Lawton who kicked his first A-grade goal for Willunga then Fenoughty and Kernahan created an opportunity for Matthews who kicked the Vale’s second. Cook was dominant across half-back for the Demons. His strong marking and run and carry not only repelled many McLaren attacks but also created opportunities for his forwards. His pass to a teammate in space allowed Colwell to mark and goal from 30 metres. Ellis, Fenoughty and Marr worked hard for the visitors but a defensive error across half-back allowed Renney to intercept and kick a long goal to give Willunga a narrow lead at the first break.

Willunga slightly increased their lead in a tightly contested second quarter but it was the visitors who attacked first. A McKay tackle forced a turn-over which allowed Grimley to mark: he narrowly missed a major score. Hutchens, Hoffman and Miegel combined to deliver the ball to Lawton whose set shot also drifted wide. Two minutes later, Bass’s kick found the middle of the big uprights. McLaren’s dug deep and stifled Willunga’s attacking play with hard running and tackling. Ellis found space where no others could and passed to Mathews who gave to Grimley: this time he kicked truly. Willunga used handballs to move the ball from one end of the ground to the other but Hutchens’ long kick just missed. From the kick-out Nelson won a hard ball, got a quick kick forward and Bass proved too strong overhead. He marked and goaled then two minutes later narrowly missed the chance for back-to-back goals. From the kick-in McLaren’s rebounded: Fenoughty marked. Willunga failed to man up on Ellis who drifted by, took the handball and kicked a long goal that sailed over the Willunga defence and bounced through to bring his team within 5 points at the long break.

Willunga slightly increased its lead in the premiership quarter, one in which both teams kicked accurately to reward the hard work of their defenders and on-ballers. McLaren were first to hit the scoreboard when a McKay tackle allowed Matthews to run forward and kick at goal: his long kick was marked on the goal line by Grimley who converted to give the Vale a narrow lead. Five minutes later Burdett rebounded to Renney who kicked long to Hoffman. His quick play-on created an opportunity for Bass: his kick split the middle. Mills and Bass ensured Willunga maintained mid-field dominance. A Renney tackle on the dangerous Ellis allowed Cook to run and create. He found Lawton whose kick just made the distance. Both teams tackled hard and forced a series of ball-ups as they struggled to gain an ascendency. Kicks were hard to get and it was no surprise that the next goal came from a soccer off the ground. Altus’s 6-pointer was the only one for the next ten minutes as both teams applied defensive pressure. Grimley broke the deadlock at the twenty-minute mark and McKay almost kicked another for the visitors but his snap was touched on the line. Willunga went forward under pressure but Hoffman twice recorded minor scores. McLaren’s Branson belted a ball forward at head height: it smashed through the hands of two Willunga defenders and fell to Mathews whose accurate kick brought the Vale within 13 points at the final change.

McLarens had the slight breeze in the last quarter but a shower of rain 5-minutes into the quarter neutralised any wind advantage. Their full-back, Zohar, made many great defensive plays to repel a series of Willunga attacks. Both sides found scoring difficult and when the final siren sounded, Willunga had managed 3 behinds to McLarens’ nil, to ensure a 16-point winning margin.

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