Workload takes its toll on Storm
A battered and bruised Great Southern Storm were unable to secure back-to-back grand final appearances, finishing fourth overall in the colts competition at the Landmark Country Football Championships in Perth last week.
After making the colts decider last year, the Storm started brightly this year with a win over Northern Suns in their first game on Thursday at Bendigo Bank Stadium but they were unable to notch victory in their remaining three round robin matches.
The Storm scored a hard-fought 13-point win over Northern Suns but went down to Peel Cavaliers by 43 points later that afternoon, and on Friday lost to Regional Districts by 23 points and then were defeated by South West Football League to the tune of 36 points.
Sitting fourth in the standings, the Storm faced Regional Districts on Saturday morning in their third and fourth play-off but couldn’t get their noses in front despite scores being level twice during the match.
Regional Districts kicked the first two goals of the game but were challenged twice by a sore and wounded Storm outfit, missing spearhead Jake Becroft.
After conceding the first two goals, the Storm rallied as majors to Braden Retallack and then Taj Williams had their side back on level terms nearing the break.
Young gun Tom Baldwin sat out the majority of the carnival but he returned in the final and shanked a clever goal from close range to start the second half as Storm levelled up once again.
Regional Districts, however, kept responding as they kicked two goals in quick succession to establish a lead once again but a freak kick out of mid-air from Williams gave the Storm a late sniff. A goal to Jaxon East and then a strong mark and set shot from Mitchell Blakers ensured Regional Districts prevailed, 7.2 (44) to 4.4 (28).
Brandon Woods was terrific for the Storm along with Jaike Dale, Corey Hitchcock, Jayden Scott and Baldwin in the final. Becroft was carried from the ground in the opening game after kicking two majors with a suspected medial ligament injury and took no further part in the game while Hamish McMorran booted three in the win.
Cain Shaw was brilliant across the four regular games including a wonderful highlight against South West, taking a couple of bounces to run from the wing, stroll inside 50 and add a classy finish on his left.
Storm coach Phil Gilbert said he was proud of their performance despite only winning one game.
“Overall, I’m really proud the way the boys competed,” Gilbert said.
“I was only disappointed in one half of footy across the five games. Workload is definitely an issue, with country week and the Kulin carnival and now this, but I’m not sure how you avoid it.
“We are a development pathway — everyone loves to win and we were considerably younger than other teams.
“Losing Jake Becroft didn’t help and we didn’t really have Tom Baldwin either, so they are also factors.”
Gilbert said aside from the five Storm players in the CBH Colts All Stars, Jayden Scott provided great hardness around the ball and Jaike Dale shored up their defence.
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