Tigers hold off Kalgoorlie to claim inaugural O’Loughlin/Worthington Trophy

Neale HarveyKalgoorlie Miner
Boulder’s Arron Russell during round 12 of the 2024 Goldfields Football League.
Camera IconBoulder’s Arron Russell during round 12 of the 2024 Goldfields Football League. Credit: Carwyn Monck/Kalgoorlie Miner/Kalgoorlie Miner

Boulder coach Simon Edwards conceded his forward line was a work-in-progress after Brett Blair’s four goals lifted the reigning Goldfields Football League premiers to a 13-point victory, 9.10 (64) to 7.9 (51), over Kalgoorlie on Saturday.

The Tigers held sway for long periods, but a scoreless third quarter left the door ajar for Kalgoorlie before a three-goal last term sealed a fifth win.

It left Boulder entrenched in third place — two games clear of Kalgoorlie — but they are without a win in 2024 against the competition’s top-two of Railways and Mines Rovers.

Blair, who returned to the black-and-golds’ squad last weekend after missing two games when Andy Higgins did a fine job as the main forward target, has bagged 27 goals to sit fourth in the battle for the Dick Robinson Medal.

Teammate Shyrone Graham has 15 goals for the season, but he was missing against Kalgoorlie as Edwards plots the best avenues to complement Blair’s output.

They include Jordan Dorizzi, who kicked eight goals against Kambalda in round eight but has been sidelined ever since.

“We’re still finding our best mix there (in attack),” Edwards said.

“With Shyrone and Jordan both not playing, we brought in Jarrod Donaldson as a small forward and Royce Tucker who gave us some energy around the footy and our look has been quite different most weeks.

“We’re trying to settle that down, but we had been sharing the goals around reasonably well previously.

“Andy Higgins hits the scoreboard as a midfielder so we have a few strings to our bow, I guess.”

Dorizzi is battling a calf injury, but with the Tigers drawing a bye this weekend, he could be in the mix for a return the following round against an undefeated Railways.

“Thankfully we’ve been able to plug some gaps and having Blairy back was certainly one of those,” Edwards said.

Arron Russell kicked two goals for Boulder, as did Ricky Whitehead for Kalgoorlie, who are fourth with three wins.

Whitehead, however, joined an injury list that includes ruckman Jordan Angus and coach Rick Butterfield lamented that his group didn’t better capitalise in the third term when Boulder failed to score.

“We had all the momentum then, so to put only one goal on them was disappointing,” Butterfield said.

“It’s a tough one (because) we just don’t have that forward power and at the other end, Blair dominated on a lead and kicked his goals.

“Everyone wants a power centre-half-forward and full-forward, but Jordan getting injured forced us to shuffle the deck quite a bit and use players in different spots.

“Credit to all the players for embracing those changes, but then we lost Ricky (Whitehead) as well.

“We ran out of firepower in the end.”

The clash at Sir Richard Moore Sports Centre was played for the inaugural O’Loughlin/Worthington Trophy, recognising the major contributions of both families across both clubs.

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