Blustering winds wreaked havoc on the WRFL in round 15, including at Spotswood as the green and gold faced St Albans.
A low-scoring affair was always on the cards, however the Woodsmen still managed to find the scoreboard – albeit inaccurately. Kicking with the breeze after a masterful coin toss by skipper Murray Boyd, Spotswood fluttered their way to a 14 point lead despite just kicking the one goal.
The players struggled to adapt to the conditions as the winds continued to howl away toward the Williamstown end of McLean Reserve.
Against the breeze was a whole new challenge for the Woodsmen, with reports of other games being cancelled and teams simply unable to score. Yet, somehow, the running brigade of the home side stood tall in the second term – miraculously running the ball upstream – resulting in a Dylan Callard goal.
Callard was the only multiple goal scorer for the day, with both sides kicking just six apiece for the afternoon.
Thankfully for Spotswood, the defensive efforts of Brandon Walshe enabled his team to keep their noses in front. Walshe was electrifying in the air and a menace at ground level, using his athleticism and strength to overwhelm his opponents at both ends of the ground.
Murray Boyd once again controlled proceedings in the ruck, while young guns Ciaran Lynch, Josh Norton and Jordan Dimkovski proved they were up to the task of toppling the relentless St Albans.
The away side simply would not go away, and with the breeze in the final quarter – they ramped up their efforts to all but steal the game. Kicking an accurate 5 goals and 3 behinds, St Albans saved their best for last while Spotswood continued to struggle in the conditions.
Some stellar defensive plays by Walshe and Gareth Newton sealed the victory with minutes to spare, giving Spotswood a three-game buffer in second place on the WRFL ladder.
Facing fourth placed Hoppers Crossing away this weekend will be a strong, finals-like litmus test for the Woodsmen, who will look to up the tempo heading into finals.
Final score: Spotswood 6.14.50 def St Albans 6.5.41
Goals: D. Callard 2, N. Hamad, J. Bennett, J. Boyd, J. Norton
Best: B. Walshe, M. Boyd, C. Lynch, J. Norton, J. Dimkovski, G. Newton
Gone with the wind
A first half lead was seemingly blown away with the wind as a 2017 finals berth becomes even harder for the Spotswood reserves after losing to St Albans.
Relentless pressure and some strong defensive efforts saw the home side down by just two goals at quarter time, kicking against the wind. As the sides swapped ends, the pressure continued – resulting in a strong 10 point lead at half time.
This lead however, would not last for long despite the best efforts of Jeremy Cross, Nathan Aidonis and veteran Will Langlands.
Fighting for fifth place on the ladder, Spotswood found themselves blown apart by the away side in the second half, leaving them still one game shy of the top 5.
The positive out of this is still the fact that Spotswood are only one game shy of the top 5, and facing opponents in a similar bracket to their own to end the season. Hoppers Crossing will clearly play finals, however the Woodsmen are clustered with Werribee and Caroline Sprints – who are the final two opponents for the year.
Both Werribee and Caroline Springs are one game ahead of the Woodsmen, who must throw everything at the final three games to nail a finals berth.
Final score: Spotswood 5.6.36 def by St Albans 7.10.52
Goals: L. Meehan 2, T. Doer-Tolhurst, S. Buttigieg-Clarke, J. Cross
Best: J. Cross, N. Aidonis, W. Langlands, S. Buttigieg-Clarke, L. Greenwood, T. Doer-Tolhurst
Under 19s draw
In a big upset to those outside of Spotswood, the SFC Under 19 side have drawn with premiership contender Yarraville at Yarraville. The win saw the Eagles tumble from 2nd down to 3rd on the WRFL ladder, and was the Woodsmen’s 5th win for the season.
Darcy Wilson mastered the windy conditions to kick two goals for the morning, while Jordan Davis starred for the green and gold. Jaii Bunting notched up his 9th appearance in the best players with another stellar effort, while the team excelled despite being the underdogs.
With just a few games left in the season, this young side is starting to show some significant signs of improvement.
Final score: Spotswood 9.9.63 drew with Yarraville-Seddon 10.3.63
Goals: D. Wilson 2, J. Bunting, B. Coots-Majer, T. Barnes, M. Skinns, J. Davis, Z. Busuttil, J. Waters
Best: J. Davis, A. Kenyi, E. Rosado, J. Drage, Z. Busuttil, J. Bunting