Panton Hill scored an impressive 23-point win over St Mary’s in the twilight game at A.E. Cracknell Reserve in Round 5 of Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3.
The win moves Panton Hill into fourth place at the expense of Kilmore. St Mary’s managed to retain top spot, but now only on percentage from Mernda. Based on the 15.11 (101) to 10.18 (78) performance, the Redbacks look well placed to make an assault on the finals.
In their first meeting since 2013, the Redbacks gained a decisive break late in the first term and withstood a spirited fightback to land the prize.
The Redbacks’ tall targets proved to be effective – with Rhys Boyden booting five majors to move to the top of the goal-kicking ladder, and Matthew Byron kicking four.
A feature of Panton Hill’s period of dominance was the intense pressure of its players upon their Burra opponents. Almost every St Mary’s possession was met with a smother or tackle early in the contest.
“Our relentless pressure was awesome,” Panton Hill coach Steve Layt said. “Each week we are looking for improvement and we got it today.”
Redback Nicholas Parks was the dominant ruckman on the field. Down back, Luke Ericson, Mitch Anderson and Brent Ryan were extremely effective.
St Mary’s needed to respond after a poor first half, that saw it trail by 41 points, and performed much better after the main break – outscoring the home team seven goals to five.
But the Burra were playing catch-up football and found themselves unable to erase the deficit. Panton Hill was often able to come up with a quick reply after a Burra goal.
Layt would have been pleased that his team was able to absorb the pressure in the second half and hold on for a hard-fought win.
The St Mary’s outfit failed to play the A.E. Cracknell Reserve as effectively as the home side. Many of the team would have played their first ever game on the ground.
Inaccuracy didn’t help their cause. A slight breeze favoured the southern end of the ground and most of the scoring was done there. However, St Mary’s managed a wasteful 3.13 kicking there in the second and fourth quarters.
Youngster James Todd was the best midfielder for St Mary’s and was one of the side’s few four-quarter performers.
Daniel Castagnini gave his team plenty of drive off half back, while Ben Mossuto was influential after the main break. Inclusion Nick Dean improved as the game unfolded – booting three goals in the second half.
“They were a lot cleaner and a lot smarter with the footy than us,” St Mary’s coach Fabian Carelli said. “We didn’t adapt, missed opportunities and made hard work of things.”
A positive for Carelli is that there is a plethora of players performing well in lower ranks – with the Burra’s reserves team undefeated and with a percentage of 614%.
Panton Hill returns to Lalor Reserve to play Lalor in Round 5. This will be the first time the two teams that were both in Division 2 the previous year play each other in Division 3. Lalor won all three outings last year.
St Mary’s will be looking to return to the winners’ list when it hosts Mernda in a top of the table clash at Whatmough Park.
Final score: Panton Hill 15.11 (101) def St Mary’s 10.18 (78)
This article was originally published on the Northern Football Netball League website. Read the original article. PHOTO: NFNL/Supplied.