2012 Round 22 Centrals vs Sturt
DOGS TUNE UP
By Robert Laidlaw
Central District, as expected, beat Sturt easily at Elizabeth in Saturday's SANFL clash, by 45 points, but the bigger news was in the reserves.
All season the Bulldogs have been struggling with injuries, with a light now at the end of the tunnel, as a couple of key players – Alan Obst and Andrew Hayes – returned through the reserves.
Although a little rusty with his kicking, Obst marked strongly and looked ready to be a force in the finals, while Hayes also had some sparkling moments, and has also returned at an opportune time.
In fact there were 14 players in the reserves who have played league footy with the Bulldogs, Thomas Dunne, Jay Nash, Chad O'Sullivan and Ben Nason all putting their names forward for promotion with good efforts.
The league game was a solid outing for Central, with just two lapses of concern, with Sturt kicking two goals in 90 seconds early in the second term, and three majors on the trot in the first 12 minutes of the final stanza.
Otherwise it was a clinical display by the Bulldogs, as they gained confidence in a number of areas, which augurs well in preparation for a finals assault.
After an almost faultless kicking for goal display the previous week, the home side's accuracy looked woeful early against the Double Blues, with four behinds from the first four scoring shots.
But a run of four consecutive goals, one a wonderful snap from James Boyd, and another a quick reply after a Sturt goal, when Luke Habel nailed a long major in a clearance in reply, gave the Dogs a 4-4 to 2-1 lead at quarter time.
The second term was a dominant period for Central, except for those two quick goals by Sturt, as the Bulldogs booted 5-6 to lead by 37-points at half time, although the final four shots on goal were behinds.
Habel was on fire through this period, kicking two majors, including a wonderful snap around his body for the goal of the game from 35m out.
With the rain having set in through the long break, precision footy was always going to be the loser in the second half, but the Dogs worked hard to kick three goals to one and open up a 50-point advantage by lemons.
The final stanza was similar, except for Sturt's run of three consecutive majors, as Central managed 3-1 to four goals by the visitors.
Ryan Williams had a sensational game to pip Habel, who kicked four goals, to be Central's best, while there were plenty of others playing well.
Captain Paul Thomas is starting to regain his best form, Brad Symes proved his value to the side with another high-possession classy performance, and Yves Sibenaler returned to the side and played his best game of the season.
And the wet weather brought out the best in Jarrod Schiller, Trent Goodrem and the Gowans twins, James and Chris.
This week the Bulldogs have the bye, followed by a final minor round game against North Adelaide at Elizabeth, then the finals, and a qualifying final date with West Adelaide.
Central District 4.4 9.10 12.12 15.13 (103)
Sturt 2.1 4.3 5.4 9.4 (58)
Best: Williams, Habel, Symes, Thomas, Goodrem, Sansbury, O'Hara, J. Gowans, Sibenaler, J. Schiller.
Goals: Habel 4, Hardy 2, J. Gowans 2, Williams 2, Goodrem, Boyd, J. Schiller, Menzel, Hannath.