League Match Report

SANFL Round 11 Match Report

BRILLIANT BULLDOGS

In Central District’s best performance under coach Paul Thomas, the Bulldogs pulled off the upset of the season, with a 35-point victory over reigning SANFL premier Woodville West Torrens at Woodville.

Backing up from the previous week, Central District again fought the game out, and for the first time this year won every quarter, and against quality opposition.

The secret to the Dogs’ success was built on confidence, a tough-as-nails approach and most importantly, camaraderie, as the whole team combined together and had each other’s backs.

It was a good start, with Kyle Presbury nailing a clever goal within 20 seconds from the start of the game.

Then Chris Olsson’s shot towards goal was aided by the bounce just eight minutes in, and Central had the game’s first two majors.

Half way through the opening term the Eagles notched their first goal, but the reply was almost instant, as Travis Schiller snapped a wonderful six-pointer a minute later.

At quarter time the Bulldogs led 3.4 to 1.3, with many expecting the reigning premier to make a charge, with aid of the breeze in the second quarter, with a quick goal, raising Central supporters’ fears.

But crumbing a ball off hands, Oliver Shaw had the answer for the Dogs a minute later.

An arm-wrestle developed with no further goals by either side until deep into time on, when, at the 26-minute mark, Nick Lange converted with a long ‘hook’ shot, for goal of the game, to see Central lead 5.7 to 2.6 at the long break.

Two players seemed to be in contention for best on ground honours at this stage, as Fraser Fort and Travis Schiller were outstanding, with many others not too far behind.

There was a lot to like about how the Bulldogs were playing. Everyone was contributing – with special mention to Ryan Llewellyn for the defensive job he was doing on Daniel Menzel, and Justin Hoskin, in his new role in leading the way from the backlines.

Still, it was the Eagles, and Central has on many occasions over the past two seasons suffered short lapses, which turned potential winning positions into losses – there was still a mountain of work to do to stop the home team from making a charge.

The third quarter was going to be telling. And when the Eagles kicked a goal in the first three minutes of the second half, there were many who braced themselves for some expected pain.

But no, it was actually the Bulldogs who excelled over the next five minutes, with two majors. First Presbury followed up on his kick forward to regain possession and boot a nice goal, quickly followed by Fort’s major.

Then half way through the term Luca Whitelum converted, and on the cusp of time on, a bit of Aiden Grace magic, with a wonderful snap, saw the lead out to 34 points.

Into time on the Eagles had three shots for goal but only managed one major, to cut the lead to 27-points at lemons, Central leading 9.8 to 4.11.

It was a solid position for the Bulldogs and one that they should be able to hang on with. But when the Eagles kicked a goal seven minutes into the final stanza, there were a few worried faces.

But no more goals were scored until time on, where Central managed the final two majors of the game, through Lange and Fort, for a euphoric 11.12 to 5.13 victory.

The last time these teams met on Woodville Oval was the final minor round game last season, and Jarrod Schiller’s 200th game, which the Bulldogs lost 2.6 to 19.8.

Even in round five in 2022, Central lost to the Eagles by 50-points at Elizabeth, which highlights the vast improvement in the Doggies.

Fort was sensational as was Travis Schiller, to be the best two on ground – both were vying with each other to take top honours, with Fort winning out by the smallest of margins.

Hoskin has been a revelation since returning for the past two games after a long injury lay-off.

Presbury continued his fine season form, Lange played his best game this year, Billy Iles again was solid down back, and Lewis Cowham made a pleasing debut – and there were so many others worthy of a mention.

From reigning premier to current ladder leaders, Central will have to go for another huge upset when it hosts North Adelaide this Saturday – a winnable game if the past two performances are built on.

Goals: Presbury, Lange, Fort 2, Olsson, T. Schiller, Shaw, Grace, Whitelum 1.

Best: Fort, T. Schiller, Hoskin, Presbury, Lange, Llewellyn, Iles, Cowham.

By Robert Laidlaw