Eastern Ranges 11-6 (72) def Kimba 6-4 (40)
Of course there will be comparisons with Winx, they share the same colours, they both perform well off a break, their coach/trainers’ surnames have six letters and end in ER (Jenner/Waller) and.....that is about where it ends.
I doubt Ranges will win 25 in a row or be named worlds best, but it was certainly pleasing to see them playing up to their potential and adding another layer of intrigue to the finals series which is now only a month away.
From the first siren when Geoff Rissman won the opening ruck contest and Ranges the first of many centre clearances, their crisp ball movement was an early marker of things to come.
Apart from a minor lapse after three quarter time when consecutive Kimba goals broke the run of play, the homeside always looked to have the game in their keeping.
Having said that it was an absorbing contest, literally, with plenty of fierce tackles and strong body work testing the depth of both benches.
Ranges had many good players on a day when the team stood tall, from the elite midfielders who perform week in week out to the likes of regulars Elliott Claxton who inevitably concedes inches to his opponents, Jared Siviour, Jake ‘Pal Pal’ Stutley and the not-so-regular Thomas and Jack Weiss who provided a bit of X-factor along with debutante Hank Burton, who after an initial hiccup showed he will not be out of place in an A grade Line-up.
Ethan Kwaterski had another outstanding game on the ball for Ranges and was the deserving winner of the Motor Accident Commission (MAC) Medal.
Best for Kimba were Jesse Kemp, Andrew Vandeleur and Dion Woolford, despite the latter’s poor attempt at an own goal where he could only manage a point.
I very much doubt any wild boars exist north or south of a line between Elliston and Whyalla - how else would Bear Grylls find the time to ruck for the Kimba B grade. His first knock was worth a kick.
The Ranges brains trust sent Trent Hannemann-Harris on to counter Bears’ influence but that was an ill-conceived cameo that lasted about as long as a five eighths spent sparkler at your grandmother’s 92nd birthday party. Nathan Smith’s cameo was far more impressive.
Swooping on a loose Sherrin at half forward with all the skill of a fish and chip starved seagull, he completed the manoeuvre with an equally deft finish for a goal to savour.
That goal blew the margin out to beyond 30 points - Ranges would go on to win 10-9 (69) to 2-5 (17).
Better players for Ranges were Brady Norris, Percy Butterfield and Joel Nield whilst Kurt Wright battled solidly all day to be the Tigers’ only goal kicker.
The start of the junior colts was delayed as the umpires attempted to toss the coin, the first two efforts aborted when the 50 cent piece came to rest upright on edge instead of flat on the ground.
The more experienced senior colts umpires had no such trouble - Ranges winning the toss and a low scoring, but keenly contested game 4-6 to 4-2.
Bailey Francis, Jack Chinnery, Connor Tree and Delaney Williams were amongst the Tigers best with Ranges well represented by Riley Evans, Jack Grosser, Angus Turner and Nathan Peters, but it was Lachlan Smart who had the Champion Data experts scrambling for the record books - in a break out game he saved the day at least three or four times for Ranges.
Ports 4-11 (35) lost to Cowell 15-14 (104)
Credit to the Port Neill groundsmen for getting the ground up in a tough year. MAC Round: Mates don’t let mates drink drive.
Ports won the minis with coach John ‘Chompy’ Masters very happy with them using their heads and playing smart footy in the windy conditions.
By half time of the colts, Cooper Llewelyn had kicked six goals.
Coach Trev McDonough gave his assistant coaches Brett Bray and Tom Masters the chance to step up to coach the game: according to Trev, it wasn’t easy to keep quiet.
Cowell won the toss and kicked with a strong wind to the south end which slowly dropped all day.
Cowell were on the board early with goals to Nick Martins and Tim Walsh.
Wayne Piggott started in the middle and provided strength in the contest, dishing off to runners Justin Mills and Jack Burton.
Cowell’s talls provided marking targets up forward with goals to Zane Wykamp and Walsh.
Ports’ Ian Wedding was providing run and carry off the back line resulting in an Ashley Masters goal into the wind.
Cowell quickly replied with two goals to Martins, who finished the quarter with three.
Ports started the second quarter with A. Masters busting through three tackles to dribble home a goal. Jake Turner was playing well for Ports.
Cowell’s Nick Dejong showed he has no need for ‘tough stickers’, proving to be too big and too strong when he took a chest mark in the goal square and converted.
The game was halted when Cooper Llewelyn was sling-tackled.
When play resumed, Martins kicked two quick goals to end the quarter.
Due to Cowell’s pressure, Ports were unable to make good use of the wind, kicking one goal, four for the quarter.
After half time Ports came out with more intent and kicking into the wind, only losing the quarter by a point.
Ports’ defenders Brad Hannemann and Caleb Prime gave away height and weight to hold Cowell to two goals.
The umpires cracked down on the sling-tackling, yellow carding offenders but is this enough? As a league, should we be considering the way the AFL deals with bad incidents?
Play was scrambly before Martins kicked two quick goals to make it seven for the day.
Tom Davey was Mr Everywhere for Ports and had a good tussle with Nick Gale at centre half forward.
Tyron Bishop, who rucked all day against three opponents, was also good around the ground.
J. Mills, Alec Klingberg and Burton continued to run hard and link up, enabling Cowell to kick four goals into the wind.
Ports played with four colts and veteran Jimmy Llewleyn. Beanies off to Bammo and the Ports boys: they are playing and working as a team and holding their own against quality opposition.
Cowell has a good balance of experience, talls and runners and I’m looking forward to watching them play against Kimba and Ranges.
MAC Medal for best on ground went to Wayne Piggott.