KDL | Gallery | Avenel comes out on top in heavyweight bout
A stirring third-term performance lifted Avenel over the line by 11 points in a captivating top-of-the-table clash against Shepparton East.
It was billed as a potential Kyabram District League senior football grand final preview and the contest at Central Park Recreation Reserve lived up to expectations.
The round nine contest was separated by single digits throughout an absorbing first half of action, which was blown open in the third term by Avenel.
Down by six points at the main break, the Swans piled on five goals to enter the last quarter with a commanding 20-point buffer.
Led by on-ballers Mitch Tobin and Kyle Maynard (three goals), the visitors muscled their way over the top of the Eagles with relentless pressure around the contest.
Braydon Avola and Jack Myers were both lively inside forward 50 and hit the scoreboard, while East defender Dwain Vidler battled hard all day on the last line of defence.
East threatened with 1.5 to two behinds in the final term but ultimately came up short.
The 9.14 (68) to 8.9 (57) result now leaves Avenel in top spot on the KDL ladder and as the final team left with an unbeaten record.
“It was a challenge. It was a real fight and the heat was on early,” Avenel playing coach Kasey Duncan said.
“We knew everyone had East as favourites but we backed ourselves in. We know we can be better and we are striving to get better.
“It’s good to get the win and now we are the hunted, but we’re still heads down.”
Shepparton East, without big man Tom McCluskey and ex-AFL talent Justin Davies, had strong contributions from on-baller Adem Barolli (two goals) and Tyler Pedretti.
Avenel defenders Chayse Thomson and Dean Giles were both brilliant across half-back for the visitors.
Giles was matched up on East’s danger forward Ryan Pfieffer, who was kept to one major.
But the contest was won and lost during that third-quarter blitz from the Swans.
No doubt both Shepparton East coach Rob Osborne and Duncan will highlight the 30 minutes after the main break in the follow-up to the clash.
“The third term was when we really put our stamp on the contest,” Duncan said.
“I thought our midfielders were brilliant, Mitchy and Kyle were both super all day. Braydon (Avola) and Jack (Myers) up forward were relentless with their pressure and ‘Goody’ (Nick Goodwin) was great as well.
“The message at half-time was ‘we need deeper entries’ because they were setting up behind the ball well and we got the ball in deep and gave our forwards a chance.
“I was really proud of the response after half-time and the way we performed in that third quarter really helped set up the win.”
Around the grounds, Girgarre has kept its season alive with a heart-stopping one-point win over Nagambie.
Down by a straight kick at the final break, the Roos found enough in the tank to get over the line 14.7 (91) to 13.12 (90) at their home deck.
Corey Wanganeen was influential, along with Byron Dryden across half-back with his intercept grabs, while playing coach Damian Cupido booted seven goals.
“It was probably one of the best wins I’ve been involved in at country footy level,” Cupido said.
“Nagambie hit the front by about 14 or 15 in the last term and for us to come back was unbelievable. It was a gutsy win.
“It was a massive game for both teams and you could tell it meant a lot. To our boys’ credit they fought until the end and, as I said, it was just unbelievable.”
David Comi and Blake Laverie were Nagambie’s standouts in the thrilling loss that sees Girgarre sit on three wins along with Nagambie.
Elsewhere, Stanhope handed an inaccurate Lancaster its fourth loss of the campaign.
The Lions kicked away in the second half to chalk up a 14.8 (92) to 6.12 (48) triumph.
Nathan O’Reilly and Matthew Gill led the way for Stanhope, while Luke Davies and Phil Carroll battled hard for Lancaster.
Murchison-Toolamba continued its stellar run with a 16.15 (111) to 2.7 (19) win over Tallygaroopna.
Andrew Lloyd starred with six majors in the Grasshoppers’ win.
Merrigum was too strong for Longwood, prevailing by 164 points at Redlegs Stadium.
The Dogs, led superbly by Jack Sinclair, had 10 individual goal-kickers in the triumph.
Lastly, Dookie United breezed past Undera by 95 points and Violet Town walked it in against Rushworth by 103 points.
Brad Ridings was best-on with his six goals for Dookie, while Nick and Fintan Brazil combined for 13 goals in the Towners’ win over Rushworth.