Bulls slide out of top two
A ruthless second-half display from reigning premiers North Albany has set up a thrilling final round of the Great Southern Football League season, after the Kangas defied the muddy conditions at Sounness Park on Saturday to defeat Mt Barker in comfortable fashion.
With puddles of water and thick mud covering large parts of the ground the round 14 contest wasn’t pretty but the Kangas, who started the round in third place on the ladder, charged back into the top two with a convincing 48-point win.
The visitors kicked the first three goals of the match and never looked back from there as they led at every change and boosted their percentage with an 11.6 (72) to 3.6 (24) victory.
Grunt midfielder Ray Padfield relished the tough conditions while veteran Grant Freeborough finished with a game-high four goals in a highly influential display.
Bulls forward Kym Monteath kicked a goal either side of quarter time for the home side who trailed by 24 points at half-time but the Kangas added five goals in the last half and restricted the Bulls to just one as they romped to a 10th win of the season.
The Kangas midfield fleet, led by Padfield, Brock Ramsay and Jack McPhee, dominated at the stoppages especially in the second half on the back of the ruck work of Kris Ericson.
Freeborough set the game alight with two goals in a minute nearing half-time and then the first major of the third term to break the back of the home side.
Kangas coach Craig Dew was again delighted by the even contribution from his entire team. “We played four quarters of footy and every single person contributed,” Dew said.
“All credit to our back six, they were exceptional.
“I don’t take much out of the game because of the conditions but our second halves have been quite strong in the last six weeks.”
The Kangas have won seven of their past eight games, the only blemish being in round 12 when they had the four points taken off them for fielding an illegal player.
But they have the best percentage of the top three teams heading into a defining clash with Royals that will help determine top spot this Saturday.
The Bulls went in without ruckman David Stone (unavailable) and Corey Byrne (calf) and lost the inside 50s, 27-44.
Daniel Dalby was influential in the first half while Adam Tissott and Joel Gray toiled hard but their side lacked winners right across the ground.
Bulls coach Shane Thompson endorsed the Kangas as hot premiership favourites and lamented not having Stone. “Not having Stoney, we don’t have another ruckman and our blokes didn’t know what to do,” he said.
“Credit to North Albany, that was a really good display in those conditions and it’s going to take a very good side to beat them in the next four weeks.
“Our game plan went out the window in those conditions, our ball use let us down and we didn’t have too many winners.”
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