Aquinas 13.19 – 97 def. Manningham Cobras 4.9 – 33
- Ragozzini 3, A. Naulty 2, P. Mahon 2, B. O’Loughlin 2, R. Foster 2, J. Butcher, J. Miles
- S. McPherson, P. Dyck, A. Guthrie, B. O’Loughlin, S. Ragozzini, D. Zuccon
Aquinas took on third placed Manningham Cobras at The Vein on Saturday, a fortress that has seen the Bloods remain undefeated at home in 2017.
Manningham posed a formidable force coming into the round 9 match-up, with recent results suggesting a tough and tight affair was ahead.
Coach Ash Naulty compared this game to finals footy, putting the onus on his players to play with the intensity and focus of a final. And judging by the first quarter, you get the feeling the boys took on the Coaches orders.
The Bloods came out of the blocks with a bang. Inspired by a ferocious attack on the ball and intense tackling pressure all across the ground, Aquinas managed to kick two early goals which set the scene for the day.
Michael Jess and new recruit Jason Miles were instrumental in the midfield, repeatedly winning the contested ball and feeding to young gun Jesse Butcher who continued to drive the ball deep inside 50 to our tall-timbered-targets.
Sean Ragozzini in his second senior game for the year (after missing the first 6 rounds due to a rib injury) was dominant across half forward and proved a headache for the Manningham coaching staff.
The Bloods were rewarded for their efforts, booting 8 majors and managed to keep the Cobras scoreless in the first term. This was greatly due to the Aquinas backline who have continued to be the backbone of the Bloods for many years.
The second term saw a different Manningham outfit come out of the quarter time huddle, with their first major scored within seconds of the first bounce. A more ferocious and physical Cobra mentality allowed them to take over momentum, which saw multiple attacks deep inside 50 area.
However, Scott McPherson proved why he is a former senior best and fairest winner by taking full control over the game and finished with the best on ground accolades. Scotty Mac’s intercept marks and rebound 50 runs were inspirational for his younger teammates, who managed to wrestle the momentum back into their favour.
And that is where it stayed for the remainder of the game. The Bloods controlled majority of the play, with inaccurate kicking costing them a bigger margin. Aquinas kicked 5.17 after quarter time which could be put down to the increase in intensity and pressure from Manningham after the first quarter.
Ash Naulty was important in his return game from a hamstring injury, competing relentlessly in contests which gave opportunity to his small forward in Billy O’loughlin who managed to kick 2 majors for the game.
Veteran Leigh Toomey in his well-deserved return to senior footy wound back the clock with a solid performance across half back, and was supported by the ever-consistent Daniel Zuccon who acted as the lynchpin down back.
Liam Whelan (currently leading the league goal kicking tally) along with captain for the day Patrick Mahon were selfless all day, providing targets further up the ground to create space for others.
Including Russell Foster who managed to kick 2 goals in his return from injury, with his first being described as a possible goal of the year contender.
The Bloods ended a successful day for the club as 64-point victors, adding to a 105-point Reserve and 65-point U-19’s victory earlier in the day.
Coach Ash Naulty was proud of his team’s effort and put the win down to a complete four-quarter team effort with 22 contributors.
Congratulations to Luke Fringuelli who played his 100th game for the club.
Aquinas have a bye next round and will take on St. Francis Xavier at home in Round 11.
By Phil Jurkovsky