Power forwards charge, Dogs win a scrap.
Led by power forwards Bryce Kelly (2 goals) and Blake Leonard (3 goals) along with a new implemented game plan from coach Ricky Sullivan, and a six goal final quarter, propelled the Thuringowa Bulldogs to a 45-point win over arch rivals, and reigning premiers, the Hermit Park Tigers, 12.11.83-6.2.38, on a scorching hot Saturday afternoon.
With Kelly acting as a prime target up forward, it took until the final quarter for the giant to trouble the scorers, where he ended up kicking 2 goals. However, it wasn’t just the key forwards that starred, Joel Newman and Josh Hollis were pivotal down back in their new positions, and the supply from the middle was superb with Anthony Harrex and co-captain Damon Szabo toiling away all day.
With an impressive seven debutantes suiting up for the club, the Bulldogs established their intent for the contest and this soon translated onto the scoreboard with Bunbury boy, Keiren Koczwara nailing a long running goal early in the first few minutes, and small forward Reiley Guest (3 goals) sneaking one through off the back of the pack. The Tigers then hit back with their first major before Leonard stamped his dominance with two goals in a minute, the first a set shot off a pass from Paul Sanson, and the next a well-controlled grubber.
The Doggies went into the first change with a 15-point lead, an impressive effort having kicked into the wind, whilst also having to contend with a spare defensive man.
In the second quarter, the scoring began to dry up, and the game became a lot more physical. Szabo and Newman relished this quarter, with Szabo managing a goal on the run, while Newman provided physicality and bounce off half back as the switch became a prominent part of the Bulldog’s counter-attack.
Heading into the long break with a 23-point lead, courtesy of a free kick and the subsequent 50 meter penalty with minutes left, the Dogs looked and were playing confident football.
After half time, the intensity went up a notch and the game became a scrap. Only one goal was kicked for the term, by Hermit Park, and although both sides had opportunities the nature of the contest dictated that it be low scoring. Thuringowa’s defence was superb, denying the Tigers any controlled momentum. Their forwards wasted numerous chances and possession.
Maintaining a healthy lead at the final break, it was the Tigers who kicked the quarters opening goal inside the first minute to cut the lead to 13 points.
It was at this time that Bryce Kelly took control of the match. His first goal was a soccer off the ground from a ball that he had
anticipated the extended flight. He then slotted a challenging set shot kicking across the wind. Done with kicking goals, he then imposed himself to allow others to kick goals as the Bulldogs ran riot through the middle of the ground. Chris Butcher and Leonard nailed impressive set shots, Daine McDonald then slotted beautiful snap over his head and Guest scored his third off a set shot after the siren, boosting the final margin to an impressive 45 points.
The win was marred by injuries to Ricky Lyness (ankle) and Harrex (cheekbone).
Thuringowa 4.3 6.6 6.9 12.11.83
Hermit Park 2.0 3.1 4.2 6.2.38
Best: Thuringowa, Harrex, Kelly, Hollis, Szabo, Leonard, Newman. Hermit Park, Andrews, Growden, Pronk, Palmer, Govers
Goals: Thuringowa, Guest 3, Leonard 3, Kelly 2, Szabo, Butcher, McDonald, Koczwara. Tigers, Davidson 2, Jones 2, Starr, Wode.