Bulls hold off fast-finishing young Sharks
Albany coach Kim Mayfield believes reproducing their second-half performance consistently is the challenge facing his improving side in the wake of their narrow nine-point loss to Mt Barker at Centennial Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Sharks almost spoiled the celebration for Bulls veteran Peter Taylor in his 200th league game when they mustered an almighty comeback in the second half to keep the Bulls goalless.
The Bulls, fielding a strong side, failed to add a goal after half-time and were forced to defend desperately in the final few minutes as the Sharks came with a big finish to almost snare their second-ever league victory.
Mayfield said although it was another encouraging performance, his side must not be content with close losses.
“It was a fantastic turnaround given we haven’t played that well in the first half,” he said. “The result means nothing really, we didn’t win.
“As long as the guys take that attitude into next week, we have to try and maintain that level.
“What it does is give the guys confidence they can match it with sides, there is genuine belief there.”
It was a remarkable round 4 contest in the end, as the Bulls kicked seven unanswered goals in the first half to lead by 46 points as the Sharks had a single point to their name despite plenty of opportunities in their forward half.
Reward for effort came in the third term as the Sharks began to win the ball around stoppages, led by Zainel Bin Busu and Michael Simpson, as debutant Marlin Bennett kicked two goals and then Liam Offer put through their third to trim the margin back to 29 points.
At three-quarter-time, the momentum was with the home side and not even a spray from firstly Kym Monteath and then Bulls coach Brad Hook could spark the visitors into action as evasive Sharks forward Zac Pearson kicked an early goal.
Pearson cleverly wheeled around a couple of opponents soon afterwards to jail his second and the Sharks had come to life, with the deficit only 16 points.
Monteath, who had kicked the only two Bulls behinds in the third quarter, missed a set shot midway through the last that was his side’s only real chance on goal.
Inside the final five minutes, Sharks’ Kieran Gowdie brilliantly kicked the ball out of mid-air to pull the margin back to 10 points, and after pressing forward again, his brother Dylan Gowdie could have made it four points but his kick on the non-preferred was off line.
In a nervous final couple of minutes, the Bulls were able to hold the Sharks at bay as they hung on desperately to win, 7.8 (50) to 6.5 (41), in Taylor’s milestone match.
Taylor was awarded the match day ball as part of the Belt-Up Round and was chaired off the ground to warm applause from both sides and spectators. Joel Gray, Tyron Miller and Nic Chidgzey were superb for the Bulls, while Monteath and Daniel Parker kicked multiple goals.
The Sharks booted six goals to nil in the second half, with Fraser Eaton outstanding around the stoppages and Stewart Davies also influential while Bin Busu, Simpson and Liam Offer were key to their second-half revival in the midfield.
The Bulls lost the inside- 50 count 27-34 and had just nine entries in the second half to the Sharks’ 19, with Hook less than pleased with the outcome.
“I’m a bit disappointed; we crumbled a bit when the pressure was on,” Hook said.
“We didn’t treat the Sharks with enough respect and at half-time probably thought we had the game covered. Some of their youth, their spread and pace really got us.”
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails