Ongerup zero in on division 2 title
Ongerup Football Association is in a strong position to contend for the division 2 title at the Landmark Country Football Championships after disposing of arch rivals Great Southern Football League for the second straight year in their regional fixture at Gnowangerup on Saturday afternoon.
The neighbouring competitions met for the second year in a row as part of the restructured championship format and a much bigger and more physical OFA side will head to Perth next month full of confidence after recording a convincing 40-point win over the GSFL.
Little separated the two sides in the first half but as the game became more physical and contested in the second half, the OFA skipped clear, kicking the only three goals in a pivotal third term.
Key forwards Chris Wollaston (seven goals) and Dean Rintoul (one) were major headaches for the undersized GSFL defence, while midfielder Isaac Baum was also superb in the 13.17 (95) to 8.7 (55) victory.
Despite more withdrawals in the days leading up to the contest, including key midfielder Ryan Gaerth and Matt Van Schayk, the GSFL started strongly, kicking the first two goals of the game through Shaquille Narrier and Shane Braimbridge.
The OFA hit back with the next four majors, including two to Wollaston, as they led by eight points at the first break, but that was short-lived as ball magnet Matt Orzel fed off ruckman David Stone’s dominance early in the second quarter.
The GSFL had three goals from three inside 50s to snatch back the lead but the OFA went into the main break ahead as they again rallied as Baum, Wollaston and Jarrad Offer all hit the scoreboard.
The margin quickly blew out to 24 points as the OFA had two early majors on the board in the second half, and when Wollaston snared his fifth of the game on the verge of three-quarter-time, the task was a big one for the GSFL.
Braimbridge became the GSFL’s only major goal kicker with a second in their makeshift forward line, while Stone capped off his busy afternoon with a deserving major but it wasn’t enough as the OFA held sway.
Wollaston was a dominant force in attack, kicking 7.3 from several towering contested marks, while an off-target Rintoul (1.5) also threatened.
Baum was brilliant around the stoppages, along with captain Luke Bairstow, veteran Ian Lloyd and David Newman, who stepped up in the ruck after the OFA lost premier big man Jayden Brooks early in the first to a knee injury.
OFA coach Kelvin Holmes said it was a great launching pad into the rest of the championships next month.
“They had us rattled early, coming with a different game plan,” Holmes said.
“But once it became more physical, we wore them down, and putting Charlie (Newman) into the ruck stopped their dominance and we gathered ascendancy in the midfield again.
“It is a good start but we won this game last year and didn’t make the final, so we’ve still got to carry it through to Perth.”
Stone and Orzel were outstanding for the GSFL in the middle, Alec Haskins provided great rebound, Ryan Kinnear and Zane Marwick accumulated plenty of possession and Ethan Knee was lively until he was concussed.
GSFL coach Wayne Stubber was pleased with his side’s effort despite their second-half fade-out.
“They had a lot more experience than us and a number of ex-WAFL players so they were really stiff opposition,” he said.
“But for the side we took up, our effort was really good but in the end they were too big and strong.
“They had a couple of key focal points and their foot skills were good. Our inexperience was found out a bit.”
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