Sandringham separate from the pack with their fifth consecutive win
Sandringham have put themselves a game clear at the top of the NAB League ladder with a 24-point win over second-placed Greater Western Victoria Rebels at MARS Stadium on Sunday.
It was a tight contest for much of the day but the Dragons staved-off the rebellion when it mattered the most, to run-out 10.10 70 – 6.10 46 winners in Ballarat.
Ollie Lowe got the boys off to the best possible start, goaling in the opening minute after some textbook clearance work from vice-captain Charlie McKay.
Working in tandem with Mitch Owens, McKay’s physicality at the contest was a highlight throughout the opening term, making his presence felt with a bone-crunching tackle that left his opponent worse-for-ware early in the game.
Bottom-ager Mitch Rowe made an impact in just his second game in the under 19s side, causing a turnover on the wing that resulted in a lovely running snap from a tight angle by Tom Blamires.
The pressure was up all-over the ground, and Blake Howes got on the end of some great work from Lachie Benton to give Sandringham an 11-point lead at quarter-time.
Three goals in a row midway through the second term, including two consecutively from Dante Visentini pushed the margin to 21 late in the half.
Visentini was simply too tall and too strong for his opponent, winning a freekick for a hold and later goaling directly from a ruck-contest, comfortably filling the significant void left by the absence of Max Heath.
A late goal from the Rebels cut the lead to 18 at the long break, with the game well-and-truly in the balance.
The third quarter was a see-sawing contest befitting of a game between the top-two sides on the ladder.
Neither outfit was able to kick consecutive goals, as Will Vesely’s and Eren Soylemez’s majors were answered by the Rebels forwards.
Surrounded by four defenders, Soylemez danced his way out of trouble and finished with a trademark snap from distance, staking his claim for goal of the day.
Stand-in captain Luke Cleary’s crucial tackle on the wing in the dying stages of the quarter was vital in stopping a certain Rebel’s charge, and with the margin frozen at 18 at the final change, it was anyone’s game early in the last quarter.
Both teams had their chances to apply some scoreboard pressure in the opening stages of the last term, but where GWV were wasteful, the Dragons were clinical.
Benton showed his class again, weaving through traffic in a crowded forward 50 before finding Vesely all on his own close to goal.
Minutes later it was Howes swooping on a loose ball in the forward line and kicking his second, pushing the lead to 29, the biggest margin of the day.
The Rebels showed plenty of fight, and cut the lead to 23 in the dying stages of the game, but ultimately it was the Dragons who managed to hold-on for their eighth win of the year.
The win takes Sandringham to an 8-1 scoreline for the season and a game clear at the top of the ladder, with just three fixtures remaining before the finals begin.
Sandringham Dragons: 3.0 – 6.4 – 8.6 – 10.10 70
Greater Western Victoria Rebels: 1.3 – 3.4 – 5.6 – 6.10 46
Goalkickers: Dante Visentini 2, Will Vesely 2, Blake Howes 2, Ollie Lowe, Tom Blamires, Ben Mansfield, Eren Soylemez
Best Players: Lachie Benton, Mitch Owens, Blake Howes, Dante Visentini, Charlie McKay, Michael Lewis