Bulls eye surge to home final

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
Mt Barker's Luke Hammond is chaired off by teammates after beating North Albany in his 150th league game.
Camera IconMt Barker's Luke Hammond is chaired off by teammates after beating North Albany in his 150th league game. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

Mt Barker coach Brad Hook says his club have their sights set firmly on earning a home final in the Great Southern Football League after a defining fortnight of consecutive wins.

The Bulls celebrated stalwart Luke Hammond’s 150th match in style after grinding out a hard-fought 12-point win over reigning premiers North Albany at home on Saturday to move within striking distance of third spot on the ladder.

It was the first time the Bulls had defeated a side above them on the ladder this season and strung back-to-back wins together to move a game behind the Kangas and two games clear of fifth-place Denmark-Walpole.

The result was set up by a defining five-goal third term with the aid of the breeze as the Bulls made the Kangas pay for their defensive blunders to skip to a decisive three-goal break at the final change.

North Albany's Angus McKercher looks to handball as Mt Barker's Peter Taylor tackles.
Camera IconNorth Albany's Angus McKercher looks to handball as Mt Barker's Peter Taylor tackles. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiserer

But Hook was more pleased with his resolute defence, which held firm in the final quarter as the Bulls held on as the ball remained in their defensive half for most of the quarter.

The Kangas could only boot two goals in the final quarter, with the home side adding a crucial major against the tide to hold on, 9.12 (66) to 8.6 (54). Hook spoke glowingly of key defenders Lee Pavlovich, David Stone and Adam Tissott, who led the way in the defensive struggle, while former captain Sam Lehmann was pivotal in crucial stages.

The Bulls also welcomed back captain Peter Taylor from injury and star forward Kym Monteath for his first match of the season.

“Our back line was completely sensational,” Hook said.

“Our third quarter we utilised the breeze but our fourth term we held firm and just turned it into stoppage footy.

“When you get the cattle on the park you can start playing the game you want and that has been reflected in the past fortnight.

“Our aim is to get a home final by finishing third, so this weekend is pivotal against the Sharks.”

Mt Barker's Adam Tissott attempts to break clear of North Albany's Daniel Parker and Ray Padfield.
Camera IconMt Barker's Adam Tissott attempts to break clear of North Albany's Daniel Parker and Ray Padfield. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The Kangas booted three goals into the breeze in the opening term but could only manage five more for the match, which coach Craig Dew said was a reflection of where his side was.

Dew said he believed his side would continue to develop but some new faces would take time to adjust in the transition from reserves to league football.

“If you look at the scoring shots we were lucky to be as close as we were,” Dew said. “The second and third quarter they outplayed us.

“That’s where we are at as a football club. Royals and Railways are the two best sides and we are in a fight with Mt Barker and Denmark-Walpole.

Former captain Graham Ross was the Kangas’ best in his 200th match along with fellow defender Regan Lloyd. Dew said his side would face a big challenge against ladder-leaders Royals on Sunday, with key midfielder Matt Orzel (back), Talon Delacey (thumb) and Ray Padfield all likely sidelined.

North Albany's Graham Ross is chaired off after losing to Mt Barker in his 200th league game.
Camera IconNorth Albany's Graham Ross is chaired off after losing to Mt Barker in his 200th league game. Credit: Picture: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

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