Lakers make it to the top

July 21, 2017

Brayden Biggs tries to fend off Avenel's Nathan Thomas.

Michael Morgan looks to give off the handball to Nick Goodwin.

Mick Roberts goes for a jog through the middle as Avenel’s Ollie Gabelich gives chase.

Harley Taylor-Lloyd and Paul Arandt contest the ruck from a boundary throw in.

Pat Rattray puts on the afterburners to get away from John Green as he charges towards goal.

Max Lawrence, Mick Roberts and Will Holman in a race to get the ball first.

Avenel’s Nathan Thomas outmarks Nagambie’s Ben Hutton.

Michael McKenzie tries his best to reach the ball before it reaches the boundary line.

Nagambie secured more than just bragging rights after it overcame arch rival Avenel by 16 points on Saturday.

The win saw the Lakers move a game clear in top spot on the ladder, following chaser Violet Town’s shock loss to Girgarre.

Unlike the Lakers’ round one win over the Swans, where they were comfortable 44-point winners, Nagambie had to shake off a fierce challenge from Avenel in the second half of Saturday’s match to snare the victory.

Avenel kicked the opening two goals of the match, but from there until mid-way through the third term, the game was predominately played on the Lakers’ terms.

Nagambie led by more than 40 points early in the third quarter, and it looked as though the game could end in another blow out.

But the Swans had other ideas.

Avenel awoke from its slumber to slam on four goals in quick succession and close the margin to 20 points by three-quarter time.

‘‘With two good sides, if one side is dominating then it’s only a matter of time before that momentum starts to swing back,’’ Nagambie coach Linc Sullivan said.

‘‘Early in the third quarter we got out to 40-point margin and that flagged Avenel in to action a bit.

‘‘We also probably started to relax and they piled on a few which in turn sparked us back in to action.

‘‘I think both midfields were dominant at different points in the game which caused that momentum shift.’’

The game was, indeed, a battle of two of the competition’s most potent midfields.

Avenel’s ever-reliable Michael Morgan and Don Stirling made their presence felt through the middle all game, while Mick Roberts and Mick Shiels led the way for Nagambie.

‘‘I thought Michael Shiels, Bo Harrison and Perc (Roberts) were instrumental in the middle,’’ Sullivan said.

‘‘They are big strong bodies and when it was time to put them to the sword in the last quarter, they did.’’

It was a shoot out at either end of the ground, with both sides’ full forwards kicking a bag.

Pat Rattray made a grand return to senior football with six majors for Nagambie, while up the other end, Avenel’s Chris Burton went one better with seven goals for the day, taking his season tally to 45.

‘‘Both Patty and Burton were good options for both sides,’’ Sullivan said.

‘‘Patty actually kicked 6.5, so that’s a good result for us.

‘‘He’s always been a terrific mark and a lovely left foot kick, and at the moment he’s fit and able and that’s the best I’ve seen him play since he won the flag with us back in 2014.’’

The only sour note for Nagambie was a season-ending injury to full-back Jackson Hutton, who ruptured his achilles in the last quarter.

While Nagambie occupies the number one spot, Avenel now sits in fifth spot on the ladder following the loss, two games behind Stanhope in fourth — which is incidentally the Swans’ next opponent following the bye.

‘‘Avenel are a really good side, and we expect them to be there right at the end,’’ Sullivan said.

‘‘We had a really good day. I thought we executed what we wanted to well, and we were able to stand up to the challenge late.’’

Score: Nagambie 13.15 (93) d Avenel 11.11 (77).

Goals (Nagambie): P. Rattray 6; B. Connors, M. Waterson 2; M. Shiels, M. Roberts, M. Nolan.

Goals (Avenel): C. Burton 7; M. Thomas, N. Goodwin, J. Rowlands, M. Berry.

Best (Nagambie): M. Roberts, M. Shiels, N. Fothergill, B. Hutton, P. Rattray, M. Shadbolt

Best (Avenel): C. Burton, M. Morgan, M. Berry, S. Tyers, P. Arandt, M. Thomas.

●For all the reserves action from Saturday, see page 21 of today’s Telegraph.

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