DOGGIES MIX AND MATCH
An undermanned Central District mixed it with the high-flying South Adelaide, in the SANFL round eight clash at Noarlunga, before fading, and went down by 27-points.
The Dogs matched it with the home side most of the way, with their third quarter turnaround almost laying the foundation of an upset win.
But starting the game without two of its stars, in Justin Hoskin (suspended) and Kyle Presbury (sick), Central District was also without main ruckman Jonathan Marsh for most of the second half.
It was good to see the maturity of this squad, as it seems they are learning valuable lessons along the way and becoming a team that can not be counted out of any contest – in stark contrast to several performances earlier in the season.
Watching Paul Thomas coach from the sidelines is acting an inspiration for his charges, as his passion for the club is obvious and infectious – he lives and dies with the players on every good passage of play and any mistakes.
In what may have been a task too hard, with so many players missing and up against a premiership contender, Central demonstrated plenty of resilience, with a lot to like about the performance.
After Nick Lange booted the first goal of the game for the Bulldogs, South responded with a pair of majors and looked to be cruising.
But then Central kicked into top gear with a goal just on the cusp of time on, followed by two more, to grab a 4.2 to 2.2 advantage at quarter time.
There was a lot to like about the different opportunist goals, with an earnt free and conversion from Aiden Grace, some captain’s work by Jarrod Schiller that set up Darcy Pisani, and Lange taking advantage of a turnover.
After the Panthers booted the first major of the second term, Jarrod Schiller set up the goal of the game, as he marked outside 50m, played on but had his handball smothered, recovered, and avoided a tackle to set up Darcy Pisani for the six-pointer.
Another good candidate for the best goal of the game followed another South goal, when Lange dummied around an opponent, made a blind turn and snapped a beauty.
South then asserted its expected authority for the next four goals, to go into half time with an 8.5 to 6.4 lead, which it soon extended in the first two minutes of the third quarter with another major.
Stung into action, the Bulldogs then unleashed an exciting brand of footy over the next 15 minutes, to boot four goals and regain the lead by seven points – executing the type of game that, if strung together for longer periods, will see Central winning more games as the season progresses.
Unfortunately, with Marsh lost in ruck, the Panthers wore down the courageous Central team, with two late goals in the third quarter and the first two majors of the final stanza, to extend a two point lead at lemons, to a handy 14-point advantage.
At the eight-minute mark of the term, East, who was playing one of his best games for the club, gave the Bulldogs a sniff with a goal against the run of play, as the margin was reduced to eight points.
It was all too much for Central though, as the Panthers ‘big men’ started having a telling influence, with the next four goals, which looked likely to blow the margin out.
But the Doggies managed to show some fight and held the home side goal-less over the final 11 minutes, while. adding one more for themselves.
There was a lot to like about many of the players performances. Lange was great and booted four goals, Grace was also prominent for three majors, while East took his game up to another level.
Harry Grant, Pisani and the Schiller brothers, Jarrod and Travis, did a mountain of work in the absence of Hoskin and Presbury, while the backline was solid under pressure. Fraser Fort led by example and second-gamer Billy Iles looked like a much more experienced player.
This Saturday Central District host Woodville West Torrens in a game the Bulldogs will be keen to take up to the reigning premier.
Goals: Lange 4, Grace 3, McLean, D. Pisani, Graham, Barreau, East 1.
Best: Lange, Grant, East, J. Schiller, D. Pisani, Iles.
By Robert Laidlaw