By Will Hunter
Port Melbourne Colts 5.6 (36) def by St Kilda City 15.11 (101)
The Saints kicked off the 2018 season in triumphant style, thrashing Port Colts by 65 points to claim the Bird Cup at JL Murphy Reserve on Friday night.
The visitors grabbed the ascendancy in the second term, booting six goals to one to open up a 36-point buffer heading into the sheds. And they didn’t let up after half time, holding the goalless in the third as they asserted their dominance and put the game beyond reach.
Aaron Purvis was the clear standout, slotting three goals in a stunning best afield display in his first game back for City, while big Nick Perry was also prominent.
Imposing new recruit Richard Findlay starred up forward for his new club, booting four goals, while Nathan Peterson also contributed four majors.
Silky midfielder Lew Mildenhall and Colts debutant Tom Nicholls were the shining lights for the home side, sharing all of their team’s five goals for the night.
Dingley 8.8 (56) def Mordialloc 6.8 (44)
The SFNL’s Match of the Round didn’t disappoint, despite the wet and windy conditions, with rivals Dingley and Mordialloc playing out another exciting contest at Souter Oval.
The Dingoes proudly unveiled their Division 1 Senior premiership flag in front of a massive home crowd prior to the big game, and withstood a spirited fightback from the visitors to record a well-earned 12-point victory.
The Dingoes were the quicker of the two sides to adapt to the artic conditions, and as a result it was one-way traffic in the first term as they slammed through the first four goals of the match to scoot to a 26-point advantage.
It took until a kick after the siren for the Bloods to register their first score of the match – a long range goal to Steve Tolongs – and it seemed to spark the Bloods into action, as they responded with the only goal of the second quarter arm wrestle to reduce the margin back to 14 points.
Mordi continued to chip away at the lead and managed to get back within one solitary point mid-way through the final term. However, the Dingoes found another gear late and responded with back-to-back goals to give them some breathing space.
Nathan Evans goaled inside the final minute to get the Bloods back within a kick, but it proved too little, too late as ruckman Simon Hallsworth goaled on the final siren to kick-start the Dingoes’ party.
Chris Horton-Milne, Lucas Walmsley (three goals) and Blackchrome Player of the Day Josh Ferguson all found plenty of the footy, but it was the Dingoes defence led by the co-Captain Trav La Rocca and the impenetrable Andrew Frost that were the most important contributors.
However, Dingley’s impressive victory was soured by a first-half collarbone injury to Liam Hard, which prematurely ended his first game in the black, red and gold..
Evans, Ben Humphrey and first-gamers Harry Haley and Hamish Curtis impressed for the Bloods.
Chelsea Heights 7.5 (47) def Cheltenham 4.14 (38)
Chelsea Heights has celebrated its return to Division 1 with a stunning upset victory over the highly-fancied Cheltenham at Beazley Reserve.
The Heighters led at every change in what was a scrappy and low-scoring contest, which also saw Cal Dodson’s emotional return to football following his 12-month cancer battle.
The Rosellas let themselves down badly with their ball use around the ground, with the home side proving much cleaner in the tough conditions. In particular Chelt’s conversion rate in front of goal was poor, registering just four goals from 18 scoring shots – six more than the Heighters.
But there would be no stopping Chelsea Heights, who had winners in Jordy Peryman, Lachy Dobson (three goals) and former St Kilda City full back Harry Czarnecki.
Rosellas Kyle Parsons and Drew Kelly also impressed in their first games for their new club.
Bentleigh 5.9 (39) def by St Pauls 6.10 (46)
While the dreadful conditions at Bentleigh Reserve may have killed the clash between local rivals as a spectacle, it was no less an absorbing contest as the Doggies saluted by seven points.
Like many matches over the weekend, the rain and wind that lingered throughout the day ensured that goals came at a premium. As such, there was never much in it at any at any stage as both teams fought to take control.
It was tough, desperate, contested football for much of the second half as the two sides traded goals, but St Pauls did enough in the final 10 minutes to hold out their local rivals.
New Dogs recruits Kale Pryor and Curtis Murfett stood out, as did reigning Ellis Medallist Matt Kreymborg with his three goals.
East Malvern 12.8 (80) def Oakleigh District 4.3 (27)
The Panthers have enjoyed a first-up victory under new coach Nathan Robinson, belting a young Oakleigh District side by 53 points at the Zoo.
East Malvern led from go to woah, and with just 0.1 in the board to half time, the Oaks were simply never in the hunt. However, they saved face with four second half goals that added some respectability come the final siren.
Jake Mullen starred with two goals in District’s side that featured no less than six players from its 2017 Under 19 premiership team, while another former Oakleigh U19 graduate in John Walker was also named among its best.
But the Panthers simply had winners on every line, including Mark Tyrell and Luke Duffy, while Marc Lonergan finished with three goals on debut.