Stressed Hook relieved at Bulls victory
Mt Barker coach Brad Hook believes his best 22 might not be clear until their first semifinal after the undermanned Bulls held Albany at bay for the second time this season with a 31-point win at Centennial Stadium on Sunday.
The Bulls went into the clash without spearhead Kym Monteath, lively midfielder Joel Gray, veteran Darren Humble and ruckman Daniel Henderson but provided opportunity for his side’s youngsters to press their selection claims.
A dominant six-goal second term proved the difference in the result as the Bulls skipped away before half-time and were never headed, 11.13 (79) to 7.6 (48).
The 36-point half-time advantage proved too much for the Sharks to erode, despite them booting consecutive goals for the first time in the match to reduce the margin to 24 points in the third term.
The Sharks were left to rue their second-quarter lapse as the Bulls slipped away thanks to five goals from Daniel Parker, all coming in the first half, and prominent duo Nic Chidgzey and Peter Taylor controlling the midfield.
Despite the Sharks winning the second half — the Bulls could only add three more goals after half-time — the home side could only add five majors themselves in an uneventful second half in warm conditions.
Hook conceded he was left worried before the match when Gray was a late omission with a knee injury and Monteath (hamstring) and Henderson (ribs) already out of the side.
The first-year coach said Monteath was no certainty to be fit for their final home and away clash with North Albany this Saturday.
“I was in stress mode before the game,” he said.
“I thought our senior players really stepped up though and we knew the Sharks were going to be up and about.”
While Chidgzey (31 possessions) and captain Taylor (24 possessions) led the way, youngsters Brent Parsons, Evan Smith and Nitan Benavides pushed their claims for inclusion in the Bulls’ finals campaign. “We had five colts players playing which I don’t think we have had in a decade,” Hook said. “It’s a great position to be in, we haven’t had our best 22 in all year so we will have a few selection dramas.”
The Bulls are unable to be moved from third spot on the ladder and will take on either Royals or Denmark-Walpole in a home first semifinal at Sounness Park.
The Sharks were well served by usual suspects Stewart Davies, Bryce Blaszkow and Michael Simpson while brothers Henry and Henrick Alforque provided some exciting patches of play.
Sharks coach Kim Mayfield said his side missed an opportunity against the undermanned Bulls.
“We couldn’t have got them any weaker with the players they had out and then we just butchered the ball, we weren’t clever about it,” he said. “I was really disappointed.”
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