Panthers on the prowl

Match of the Day status is something that has alluded the Devon Meadows Football Club for quite some time – but something the Panthers may need to get used to starting with today’s clash against Dromana at Glover Reserve. Let’s not get too carried away with last week’s 53-point victory over Pearcedale – the merit... View Article

Match of the Day status is something that has alluded the Devon Meadows Football Club for quite some time – but something the Panthers may need to get used to starting with today’s clash against Dromana at Glover Reserve.

Let’s not get too carried away with last week’s 53-point victory over Pearcedale – the merit of that performance is still to be determined – but the Panthers do look to be a better unit than the one Glenn Michie prepared last year.

They had to withstand an early struggle against the Dales last week before kicking 10 goals to three in the middle stages to put the contest to bed.

Michie, well he was happy after the Panthers had limited pre-season exposure with just one practice match due to an opposition pulling the pin.

“It was a real arm wrestle early, it took a while to shake them off, but I was really happy how we were able to break them after quarter time,” Michie said

“Through circumstances we only had one practice match heading in, and that was against Tooradin in the wet, so considering that I was really pleased with the performance.”

The return of defender Gavin Kerr and ruckman Cal O’Hare has been a bonus for Michie, while a couple of gun recruits has brought a real edge to the Panthers style of footy.

“The recruits all complement each other, we haven’t picked up too many of the one type and I think we’ve got a really good mix around the ground,” Michie said.

“Mat Fletcher comes in as the complete midfielder who can play inside or out, and that helps a bloke like Stef Baumgartner who has had to carry the load in the middle.

“And up front we’ve got players like Allan Murray, Troy Aust and Theo (Michael Theodoridis) who can share the load – hopefully at least one of them will bob up each week.”

It was Aust’s turn to shine last week, kicking five, while Fletcher, Theodoridis, Leigh Craig and Kyle Beveridge chipped in with two apiece.

But Michie was most impressed with his sides ability to work as one.

“The way the players gelled so well was a real highlight and that chemistry is only going to grow stronger over time,” he said.

“It’s no secret that we’ve had a fair turnover of players, but the new faces and the existing group are getting along well. Sometimes you need to lose a player or two to create a new vibe at a club and I think there’s a really positive vibe around the club at the moment.”

Devon Meadows next big challenge is Dromana – impressive in victories over Rye and Somerville to start the season.

The 23-point win over the Demons was solid, but the 57-point caning of Somerville last week took things to an entirely new level altogether.

The Tigers conceded a 19-point lead at quarter time but found a new gear to kick 12 goals to three to take an eight-goal advantage into three-quarter time. Ethan Johnstone was once again impressive with three, while Billy Quigley, Shaun Clarke and Andy Howison were solid contributors around the ground.

“They’re obviously going well with two solid wins and they have a lot of on-ball utility types who can bob up and cause you trouble,” Michie said.

“They have some guys from their premiership team from a few years back and some young guys like Ethan Johnstone that have really hit the ground running. We’ll be up against it, but I think we’re a better unit and better prepared now to handle these types of challenges.”

Michie said the new divisional concept had given clubs a fresh outlook on things.

“It’s a new era, not just for the league but for every club in the competition because it opens up new opportunities,” he said.

“There seems to be a really even spread across the league with a host of teams keen to play finals and early-season wins are going to be key. I know it’s reinvigorated Devon Meadows and I’m sure there are other clubs out there that have been reinvigorated as well.

“Whether it’s a fact or not, everyone feels like they’re closer to the mark and that’s got to be a good thing.”

This one’s harder to pick than a broken nose but we’ll go for Dromana by single digits.

Two last-start winners in Rye and Karingal lock horns at RJ Rowley Reserve.

The Demons were clinical against Tyabb for three quarters last week before taking the foot off the pedal and allowing the improved Yabbies to kick six goals to one in the final term to close to 11 points.

It was fantastic to see Tyabb so competitive to start the season – but for Rye it was a big wake-up call. The Demons are looking to significantly improve this year but will soon realise that won’t occur unless they can put together four consistent quarters of footy.

Jye Lloyd, Tyrren Head and Tom Baker have made their presence felt in the opening exchanges of the season and will need to be on their game against the Bulls.

Brett Dunne would have been delighted with his team’s ability to fight to the very end and overcome a dogged Langwarrin last week.

The ‘Grange Hermitage’ of local football – Michael Burke – continues to get better with age and relished the challenge when the four premiership points were on the line. Andrew and Steve McInnes were also outstanding for the Bulls who have the ideal opportunity to go two-zip for the season.

But we’ll go for the home crowd to get the Demons home in a tight one.

Langwarrin and Red Hill will be fuming after losing by close margins last week and will be keen for redemption when the two teams run out at Lloyd Park.

That fine line between pleasure and pain was clearly evident for both clubs who were desperate to start their season off with a victory.

But how will that form stack up at 2pm today?

Blake Peach, Shane Paterson and Blake Harkness will be hoping their impressive form from round one translates to a Kangaroos victory, while Matt Hyden, Jonah Siversen and Harrison Byrt will be just as keen to get a Hillmen win on the board.

Siversen looks set for a big season and if the Kangas don’t control him they will suffer the consequences.

Another game that is almost impossible to pick, let’s go for the Kangaroos to win by 13 points.

Chelsea will be breathing a big sigh of relief after last week’s struggle against Red Hill but will be hoping for a more comfortable passage to victory when it travels to Pearcedale.

The Seagulls were pushed all the way by the Hillmen and it was only a four-goal effort from Curtis Bywater and great games from Simon Mitchelhill and Jason Clark that got them across the line in the end.

There was nothing flashy about the win, just good old fashioned footy got the job done.

Pearcedale will be very disappointed with its performance against Devon Meadows last week, bookending the game with some resilience but falling away through the middle stages of the contest.

Zach Campbell, Connor Benwell and Zane Hill were solid performers for the Dales who will look to bounce back…and bounce back hard. The Panthers need a good start and to apply some scoreboard pressure to the Gulls, who still need to learn the habit of consistent winning.

But it’s a habit that will be closer to reality after a 26-point victory.

Crib Point and Somerville were the two big disappointments of round one and will square off in a must-win game for both clubs at Crib Point.

The Magpies were fired up for 200-gamer Luke Herrington last week and pushed Hastings in the first term before the Blues ran away with the four points. Sam Kilduff was the best of the new recruits kicking two goals in a standout performance for his new club.

Herrington was also good on his milestone day while David Cook and Steve Henshaw could also hold their heads high.

Somerville started brilliantly against Dromana but fell away in the blink of an eye. The Eagles were three goals up at quarter time before the Tigers ran rampant with 28 scoring shots to seven from that point forward.

Ryan Gillis kicked three for the Eagles and will be focused on a big bag against the Magpies. He is the type of player where if he gets his confidence up…look out!

The Eagles should bounce back and win comfortably.

And Hastings travel to Tyabb to take on the new-and-improved Yabbies at Bunguyan Reserve.

Tyabb almost pulled off a miracle last week against Rye, kicking six goals in the last quarter to give coach Aaron Pacey and his team a real confidence boost.

Sure they went down, but that sort of comeback is something we haven’t seen from a Yabbies side in many a long day.

If Jake Anderson, Brendan Doyle and Brad Williams can follow the lead of their skipper Ethan Rahilly, the Yabbies might be in this for a while, but Hastings’ class will shine through in the end.

Luke Hewitt will be out to top his eight goals from last week, while Paul Rogasch, Nathan Gray and Shaun Foster will be keen to deliver a brutal reality check to the home side.

It’s the Blues to bank the four points in style.

-AFLSE Media-