Sandringham have sent a statement to the rest of the competition with a commanding 97-point win over the Oakleigh Chargers at RSEA Park on Saturday.
In a side featuring eight debutants, the Dragons kicked their biggest score of the year and conceded their lowest, winning 17.12 114 to 2.5 17.
The opening quarter was a tight affair in slippery conditions, with Sandringham claiming a slight edge at the first break.
Felix Flockart opened the scoring in the fifth minute, kicking his first for the club, before goals to Matt Harms and Archie Loughnan on debut provided a spark late in the quarter.
Co-captain Josh Sinn, and Luca Macnab were proving welcome additions across the halfback line, pushing high up the ground and providing great rebound and direction for an inexperienced side.
It was the second quarter where the Dragons flexed their muscle.
Three goals in the first five minutes from Flockart, Lachie Benton and Joe Nowell respectively, set the tone for a dominant quarter, kicking six-goals-to-zero to open-up a 52-point lead at the long break.
Nowell kicked back-to-back goals from long range with his booming left foot, and was proving a handful for the Oakleigh defenders, flying for contested marks and being a presence at ground level as well.
Ollie Lowe, who created multiple chances through his pressure and work-rate, was rewarded for a tireless quarter up-forward with a textbook front-and-centre crumbing goal late in the term.
The third quarter was a true arm-wrestle, with neither side able to create any scoreboard pressure.
Dogged defense from both sides, including a brilliant smother from Macnab to save a shot on goal early in the quarter, meant that just two goals were kicked, split evenly at one each.
Will McCartney finished some tenacious work from Lowe after some quick ball movement on the far wing to register his first for the club.
A “little sting” from senior coach Jackson Kornberg at three-quarter-time proved just the tonic for another assault in the final quarter, having dropped-off in intensity during the third.
Kicking to the scoring end, the last quarter played-out much like the second, with Sandringham piling-on the ascendency to run-out 97-point winners.
Rex Kilburn and Charlie Clarke joined McCartney, Harms and Loughnan as goalkickers in their first game, while two from Eren Soylemez to make it 14 for the year for him, and singles to Harms, Kilburn and Charlie McKay put the result beyond any doubt.
Speaking after the game, Kornberg was proud of the two-way performance of his side.
“I thought from a holistic, footy point-of-view, it was a really positive game,” Kornberg said.
“Really good to put a good offensive performance together, we scored over one-hundred points, which I think we’ve done once this year, but also to be relatively accurate too with 17.12, that’s something we’ve been working really hard on, which is great.
“But I thought it all came on the back of our defense.”
With 17 debutants in the last three games, opportunities have arisen for new players to press their claim for a spot in the side, and has showcased the depth in the squad.
Kornberg said that that is a reflection on the whole club and the professional culture instilled by both players and staff.
“I think It really speaks to the work that the players have been doing over the entire program, but certainly my assistant coaches; I’ve got a really good staff across the board as line coaches and development coaches, who work really hard with the players on their craft and it’s great to be able to see them come in and have an impact.
“But I think the most pleasing thing out of the whole game is, I think every single one of those first goalkickers, when they kicked a goal, all 17 of their teammates got around them.
“It’s a real collective cultural effort, so I’m really happy when you see stuff like that.”
After five wins from six contests, the Dragons will travel to Kingston next week to face Tasmania on Saturday afternoon.
Sandringham Dragons: 3.2 – 9.6 – 10.8 – 17.12 114
Oakleigh Chargers: 1.1 – 1.2 – 2.5 – 2.5 17
Bests: Lachie Benton, Charlie McKay, Felix Flockart, Michael Lewis, Luca Macnab, Max Heath
Goalkickers: Felix Flockart 3, Joe Nowell 2, Eren Soylemez 2, Matthew Harms 2, Archie Loughnan, Lachie Benton, Max Heath, Ollie Lowe, Will McCartney, Rex Kilburn, Charlie Clarke, Charlie McKay.
Debutants: Charlie Clarke, Ned Crowe, James Creighton, Hugo Hall-Kahan, Matthew Harms, Rex Kilburn, Archie Loughnan, Will McCartney.