In difficult conditions, Kilmore put on an impressive display to defeat South Morang by 32-points, ending the Lions unbeaten start to the 2022 Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 season.
The Blues set the tone for the match early in the afternoon, with a return of 3.1 to 0.6 for the first term the base of an eventual 10.5 (65) to 4.9 (33) victory.
In what was their first ever triumph at Mill Park Lakes Reserve, both the Blues and Lions are 4-1 after five rounds, although the latter still has the superior percentage.
Kilmore had caught the Lions off guard with their ball movement in the first term, kicking three early majors while the home side struggled to convert their chances at the other end.
South Morang were quickly playing catch-up football after Kilmore snagged the first major in the second term courtesy of Marcus Webb.
The home side only kicked four goals for the match, two back to majors in the second term followed by the same in the third.
But each time South Morang did find the big sticks, Kilmore always found a response to dismiss any chance of a come-from-behind win by the Lions.
At the last change, the Lions trailed by a manageable 19-points and coach Gary Hall urged his team to go deep and direct with a slight breeze at their backs.
Kilmore had gained the early ascendancy in the first three terms. They attacked early in the last and a kick to the goal square by James Atkinson was pounced upon by Michael Marrett, who dodged an opponent and goaled.
The deficit proved too much for South Morang on a day when scoring proved difficult.
Kilmore’s defence was brilliant all afternoon and was superbly led by Jaxson Kinnear. He was ably assisted by Kieran Moran and Stephen McIntyre.
Michael McCullough rucked well and capped off his game with two majors, including the final goal of the match after a strong contested mark, while Chris Barton and Chris Ryall were industrious in a winning midfield.
“We executed out game plan as well as we could,” said a happy Kilmore coach Nathan Phillips.
“Our pressure was relentless all day and that helped us get the win.”
Max Hayes has been a find for the Lions and the youngster has played every game so far in 2022. The wingman was named best for his team.
Under duress, South Morang showed a lot of fight in their defensive half. Ben Power’s ability to use the ball well, even when under pressure, was on display throughout the afternoon with Ben Muscat and Luke Cullen also standouts for the Lions.
Poor kicking at goal, as well as lack of key personnel, added up to only their second defeat for the decade while the Blues, who were themselves missing the in-form Bailey Taylor-Egan, were good enough to take the opportunity with both hands.
“Under the circumstances, it was quite a good effort,” said South Morang coach Gary Hall.
“Two scoring shots the difference, but they took their chances and we didn’t.”
Next week, Kilmore return to J.J. Clancy Reserve to clash with the winless Lalor in a must-win game while South Morang faces another challenge when travelling to Laurimar Reserve to battle with Laurimar, in a match of great importance to the finals race.