Dragons blitz Falcons to secure Qualifying Final berth
THE SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS proved far too strong for Geelong in wildcard round on Saturday, blitzing the Falcons to the tune of 102 points to confirm a NAB League finals berth.
Restricting the Falcons to a paltry three goals for the match, the Dragons piled on 20 of their own, eventually running out 20.6 (126) to 3.5 (23) winners under the sunshine at the Preston City Oval.
While not a cloud in the sky could be spotted, kicking against a strong wind in the first term after losing the toss seemed a challenging prospect.
But while the Dragons’ defence was under siege early, the Falcons managed just one major in the opening quarter, and despite trailing the inside-50 count, straight Sandringham kicking saw it lead by 11 points at the first break.
The second term saw the Dragons’ midfield brigade take command of proceedings in assertive fashion, led from the front by skipper Ryan Byrnes as Angus Hanrahan found an abundance of Sherrin on the wing.
Two early second-quarter goals from Jack Bell and Fischer McAsey took the lead to 23, before another quick pair from Archie Perkins and Hugo Ralphmsith saw the margin suddenly blowout to 35.
Bell was soon in the action again, with considerable hang-time at half-forward resulting in a huge intercept mark.
McAsey then put through his second before Miles Bergman also hit the scoreboard twice, with his second goal an impressive bomb from 55 metres out.
Then, as the half-time siren sounded, it was Bergman again with ball-in-hand—this time about 75 from home—and after launching a barrel, with the aid of the breeze and a shepherd, the ball somehow made its way through for a behind, as the Dragons’ lead inflated to 62 at the main break.
The third quarter saw more of an arm-wrestle with Sandringham again against the Preston breeze, but the Dragons’ miserly defence allowed just one goal, with the lead growing again to 72 points at three-quarter time.
Finally, a six-goal-to-one final term confirmed a Dragons finals berth in style, and head coach Josh Bourke praised the players’ commitment to a strong team performance.
“I look at individual moments in a team game,” he said post-match.
“I look at [Charlie] Dean continuing to look for teammates, protect teammates, team first.
“I look at Louis Butler playing deep back on a dangerous small for a long period in the middle two quarters. Team success comes first.
“I look at Billy (Mackay) going inside, not having the footy, holding position, locking onto a player. Team first.
“There were numerous examples. Some of Oscar [Lewis’] defensive efforts to support teammates.”
While Bourke was visibly content with his side’s efforts on Saturday, he noted the win had only laid a strong foundation for further hard work.
“Where we’re at is really promising, but all we’ve done is set up [more] hard work from here,” he said.
“[We] know we get to play two finals now, which is exciting, but next week becomes our focus.”
The Dragons will look to strike gold in Ballarat as they take on the Eastern Ranges at 2pm on Saturday at Mars Stadium.
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.0 11.4 14.4 20.6 (126)
GEELONG FALCONS 1.1 1.2 2.4 3.5 (23)
Goals: Bergman 4, O’Leary 2, Ralphsmith 2, McAsey 2, Bell 2, Dean 2, Maginness, Chrirgwin, Perkins, Yorke, Byrnes, Bowey.