Blues bounce back in strong fashion

Published on Sunday, April 21, 2024

Author : Hamish Phillips

Epping have bounced back in a big way, finishing their Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 match with Kinglake as 55-point winners at Epping Recreational Reserve.

After a narrow defeat on their home deck against Old Eltham Collegians only seven days prior, the Blues returned to winning form in terrific fashion, kicking seven goals to two in the second term to set up a 17.12 (114) to 9.5 (59) victory.

With no Adrian Alfonsi, Daniel Rakhlin was the home side’s main target inside 50 and finished the afternoon with four goals, all in the first half, to take his season tally to nine majors after three games. Jake Conway and Sebastian Latina produced three goals apiece.

Leigh Judd was again outstanding, while in defence, Dallyce Taylor and Matthew Mikic made sure the dangerous Kinglake forwards had to work hard for every score.

It proved to be the case for most of the match for the Lakers, with the visitors only kicking nine goals for the afternoon, Leigh Gilbert and Damian Pywell being the side’s only multiple goalkickers.

Liam Styles was a standout however for Dave Florance’s men, with his great ruck work giving his side every opportunity to gain an advantage in clearances.

Early in the match, it was Styles’ efforts that gave Kinglake a positive start to the contest, as clearance and a set shot were produced inside the opening 30 seconds, however they were unable to convert.

Play within the first ten minutes of the game found itself in the middle of Epping Recreational Reserve, with both teams looking to use the corridor as opposed to the wings.

James Tadd opened the scoring for Epping after nailing an excellent major in traffic three minutes in, before Jed Tyrrell kicked the goal of the day for the Lakers with a booming drop punt on the boundary line from 40 metres out.

Not even a minute had passed before the Lakers were able to add their second major in a row, thanks to a crumbing goal from Pywell.

Although neither side were efficient with their disposal, they were still able to trade goals throughout the term.

Epping skipper Leigh Judd sent a terrific ball inside 50 to find Daniel Rakhlin who kicked truly, before Leigh Gilbert stamped his authority on the quarter by kicking two set shot goals, which came either side of a two-goal run from the Blues.

Leading by three points at the start of the second term, the hosts made an effort to increase their pressure as the game started to turn into a contested battle.

Rakhlin would reward his side’s increased ferocity by adding to his goal tally. He would have four majors by half time and was having a strong impact on the match.

With the game continuing to be played in a contested style, Epping had more opportunities to put scores on the board with their consistent hard ball gets and it paid dividends, as they slammed home four of the next six goals of the match to lead by 37 points at the main change.

The Blues showed no signs of slowing down coming out of the half time break, and as Archer Bugden kicked another Epping goal, it was clear the home side’s pressure was overwhelming their opponents, who found it difficult to find clean possession of the football.

Kinglake were unable to match that pressure, particularly inside defensive 50, as a second major for Waldron made it six of the last seven goals for Brad Hollow’s men.

Judd then got involved in the act with a goal of his own before the Lakers finally broke the drought through Bailey Hamer to trail by 52 points at three quarter time.

But the onslaught continued into the final term, with Epping generating six scoring opportunities compared to Kinglake’s three, and while they weren’t as efficient in converting those chances, the Blues had the game run and done.

To Kinglake’s credit, their defence in the final term stood up by taking many intercept marks and having numbers at ground level in order to generate rebound 50’s.

It allowed for the visitors to win the final term, but it took nothing away from the Blues’ impressive display.

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