Bears pick up vital victory over Burra

Published on Sunday, June 2, 2024

Thomastown have created some breathing room from the sides chasing a top five spot in MC Labour Division 2 after a 12-point triumph over St Mary’s at Whatmough Park.

The Bears led at each quarter break with the margin at six points ahead of the final term. The Burra managed to lead by a point approaching time on before two late goals from the Bears secured the 11.13 (79) to 9.13 (67) victory.

It’s now three straight wins for David Folino and Sashe Spiroski’s side who have not only created a one-game gap from sixth placed Panton Hill but are also now four points behind St Mary’s on the ladder following the conclusion of the opening half of the regular season.

Michael Tang was excellent and stood up for his side when needing to maintain their advantage. He finished with three goals for the match and was impressive in his stints in the ruck.

Two crucial majors from Charbel Khoury in the last quarter proved to be match-winning goals for the away side, while Youseph Dib again finished in his side’s best.

St Mary’s were missing some crucial players in their clash with the Bears including reigning Division 2 league best and fairest Tane Cotter as well as Joseph Maggio who had been named in his side’s best in six of eight matches in 2024.

They were led by the returning Lachlan Read who impressed down back, while Jack Cicitta produced a season-high three goal and would be his side’s only multiple goalkicker for the afternoon. It included a goal of the year contender on the half time siren.

The game began with the second-best goal of the afternoon five minutes into the match, as with the ball locked inside their forward 50, it spilled out to the Burra’s Jack Bianchin who snapped the kick around the body from the tightest of angles and it sailed through the big sticks.

St Mary’s were still maintaining possession the majority of the time but it was apparent Thomastown were slowly starting to settle into the game, and they would eventually kick their first of the afternoon through Michael Tang at the 11-minute mark.

He would fire again for the Bears just moments later after picking up the ground ball and snapping truly to give the visitors the lead.

It would be an even contest for the remainder of the term. John Desmond gave Fabian Carelli’s men the lead back just before time-on with a nice finish on the run before Kyle Green converted his set shot minutes before the quarter time siren to ensure Thomastown led at the first break.

Both sides would trade goals and behinds across the first 20 minutes of the second term, with Green and Lucente finding the big sticks for the away side as well as MacGibbon and Cicitta for the Burra.

The Bears still led by seven points before a flurry of majors closed out the opening half. Billy Samie ran through and read a beautiful ruck tap from Tang inside 50 to nail the running shot on goal, before the in-form Youseph Dib kicked truly from 40 metres out to bring Thomastown’s margin out to 19 points approaching half time.

But St Mary’s had the last say of the half and it was Cicitta who kicked a miraculous goal just seconds before the siren. A Nicholas Dean set shot fell short and reached the pack of players close to goal, and before the ball could even touch the ground, Cicitta stuck out his foot, with his back facing the goal, and connected with the ball, which sailed over his head for a major.

The entertainment from the end of the second term didn’t carry into the third quarter initially, as each side kicked three behinds apiece throughout the opening 10 minutes.

Thomastown would eventually break the goal drought through Tang, who booted his third major of the game to push his side’s advantage back out to 19 points.

Again, St Mary’s would answer, this time with the only other two goals of the quarter, thanks to Connor Kissane and Nicholas Dean to suddenly reduce the margin to seven points by the 20-minute mark.

The Burra threatened to score again throughout the latter stages of the quarter, keeping the ball in their attacking half, but had to settle for a six-point deficit at three quarter time.

With the game in the balance and after two behinds, it was the hosts who kicked the important first goal of the last quarter, as Cicitta’s third of the match gave his side the lead for the first time since the opening term.

Thomastown’s response came four minutes later after Charbel Khoury kicked a wonderful snap from the boundary to regain his side’s lead.

Each team had chances to pile on scoreboard pressure before a Jeremiah Antypas free kick and goal again gave St Mary’s the advantage at the 14-minute mark of the term.

A tense period followed, as the Bears brought more intensity to the contest, with their forward pressure creating a set shot and goal from Khoury to create another lead change in the visitors’ favour.

Thomastown went again at the next centre stoppage, and their relentless drive forward ended with a Lucente goal which pushed the lead out to 11 points.

A disciplined Bears outfit ensured the ball rarely entered the Burra’s attacking half for the final five minutes of the game, with full-time signaling an impressive 12-point win.

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