It was a sharp change of fortune for the Zebras against reigning Premiers Port Melbourne in their return to action after the bye and their goalless afternoon against Williamstown. The Zebras dominated their more fancied opponents for much of the afternoon and with six of the last seven goals of the match ran away with 57-point victory.
Ruckmen set the scene in games, and Tom (Hickey) was really strong in the contest. He worked well with the likes of Darren Minchington, and Nathan Freeman got going for us as well.
“He delivered for us over the four quarters, which is what we expect, and now he certainly puts himself back in the AFL selection frame.”
Sandringham Coach Aaron Hamill
Tom Hickey was the standout player on the ground, with 34 possessions he was the leading ball winner for the day, he also pulled down five contested marks and had seven clearances. It was in the ruck though that he had his biggest impact winning 59 hitouts, ably assisted by Rowan Marshall with 16, as the Zebras big men dominated the stoppage battle 75-27.
Meaty (Darren Minchington) certainly stands out at VFL level. Some of the taps he was able to get from Tom obviously helped, but you’ve still got to have the ability to create the space and then use it, and he was quite damaging around stoppage. I still think Minchington can be a consistent AFL performer, he just needs consistency with his body and hopefully now he can get a good run at it.
Sandringham Coach Aaron Hamill on Darren Minchington
Darren Minchington and Nathan Freeman were a pair of listed Saints who were able to prosper as a result of the delivery Hickey provided. Minchington coming back from injury collected 25 possessions and kicked two goals in the second quarter that helped the Zebras gain control of the contest. Freeman, also finding his feet after his long running injury battle, was also impressive 20 possessions.
Ed Phillips bounced back from his sorry day against Williamstown, collecting 20 possessions on a wing and impressing his coach with his ability to run the lines. Nick Coffield was a little more quiet and struggled to have an impact on the ball with 10 possessions.
Gilbo is a ripper. You know what you’re going to get when you’re driving to the game – you know that from a defensive point of view, Gilbo’s going to hold you up really well and keep that stability there. To have him there is really good for the younger blokes to lean on and learn from, and I know they really enjoy playing with Gilbo.
Sandringham Coach Aaron Hamill on Sam Gilbert
Down back the Zebras welcomed back the returning veteran Sam Gilbert, his experience was invaluable in a number of crucial stages. Named among the teams best, Gilbert laid four tackles and had 18 possessions. Logan Austin and Hugh Goddard were also singled out by the coach after the game. Goddard closed down one of the VFL’s most dangerous forwards in Jordan Lisle, while Hamill praised Goddard for a “defensively sound game without high numbers.”
Brucey competed really well in the air for us to either win or halve the contest. Port only marked it twice in our forward 50m, which has been a bit of an Achilles Heel for us. Stemming from Brucey’s contest work, we were able to lay 28 front-half tackles, so that goes hand-in-hand with Josh’s work in the air.
Sandringham Coach Aaron Hamill on Josh Bruce
With namesake Josh Battle injured, Josh Bruce may be in line for a recall to the senior team after his three goal effort against the Borough. After three consecutive games in the VFL he looks ready to provide a target at AFL level. Nathan Wright and Jack Lonie, with six tackles/three goals and eight tackles/two goals respectively, ensured there is some pressure on Mav Weller for the defensive forward role in the Saints front half.
With fellow countryman Darragh Joyce making his senior debut, Ray Connellan flew the Irish flag kicking the game’s opening goal and taking five marks across halfback. Doulton Langlands was another to hit the scoreboard on a day when the Zebras had 12 individual goalscorers. Brandon White battled hard on the half forward line while Oscar Clavarino stuggled.
Now just one game outside the Top Eight, Sandringham travel to Coburg to take on the last placed Lions. A three game home-stand against Geelong, Richmond and Box Hill follows and will most likely go a long way to deciding whether the Zebras will return to the finals in 2018.
VFL – ROUND 13
Port Melbourne 3.2 6.8 8.9 11.13 (79)
Sandringham 4.2 9.3 15.6 21.8 (134)
Goals: Bruce 3, Lamb 3, Lonie 2, Wright 2, Minchington 2, Seccull 2, Haidon 2, Marshall, Langlands, Gilbert, Phillips, Connellan
Best: Hickey, Gilbert, Bruce, Minchington, Marshall, Seccull