Eagles first steps to momentum
WARRACK Eagles took some big steps to building its Wimmera Football League season when it proved too strong for Ararat at Alexandra Oval on Saturday.
The Eagles claimed a 52-point victory over the Rats that saw the Eagles produce some strong running play as it looks to build some momentum through the middle part of the season.
After a spasmodic start to the year that has seen some strong play mixed with some periods of stale football, the Eagles dominated most of Saturday’s match with a big opening to the match and a consistent second half.
On the open expanses of Alexandra Oval, the Eagles showed its most potent passages of play early in the game which resulted in a seven goal to two term.
The return of Jesse Murphy to its forward line had the Eagles up and running with the strong leading forward kicking the first of eight majors for the match, three of which came in the first quarter.
Together with Cade Wellington, the pair combined to kick five first quarter goals as it mixed its leading play with some clever work at ground level to set up a 31-point quarter time lead.
Daniel Bell and Cade Williams joined the goalkicking list as it helped finish the work of midfielders in captain Ben Spicer and joint coach Steve Schultz who linked up with rebounding defender Dan Krahe to send the ball forward.
Krahe’s work across the half backline came to the fore again in the second term as Ararat worked to shut down the Eagles forward line to set up its own scoring opportunities.
The Rats reduced the Eagles scoring options that saw both sides kick two goals for the term that cut the Eagles lead to 29 points at half time.
Spicer was again at the forefront of the Eagles play, teaming well with running wingmen Kyle George and Liam Stewart who added extra run when joining the fray.
Warrack Eagles went into the clash without key defender Jae McGrath who was involved in a car accident on arrival just outside the ground.
McGrath, travelling with his brother, was treated for concussion and taken to Ararat Hospital and kept overnight for observation after at one stage looking to be transferred to Melbourne for scans.
McGrath’s absence saw Zane Jess step into a defensive role and during the third term provided direction across the half backline with some precision kicking to set up running team-mates.
The Eagles were full of run during the third term as it piled on six goals to two with Murphy adding another three goals to his tally as the Eagles opened up a nine-goal lead by three quarter time.
Williams added a second goal, while Wellington was again creative for another two majors as the Eagles shut down scoring chances in attack with Jayden Werner proving a real stumbling block to the Rats forwards.
Werner pulled down a number of telling marks during the quarter and with Adam Schulz and Krahe set up many attacking forays.
The Eagles suffered an injury blow during the third quarter when Spicer was forced from the field with a hamstring injury to interrupt his day that was productive with some hard running to support team-mates around the ground.
A 10-goal final term highlighted the match with both sides kicking five goals for the quarter as the Eagles matched strides with the Rats who found an extra yard in its best passage of play for the match.
Steve Schultz kicked two goals for the term to top a best on ground display as Murphy kicked his eighth and Jarred Martin and Jack Wilson joined the goalkicking table with one each.
Ben Harrison enjoyed another strong display in the ruck as he worked well with onball team-mates, while Krahe and Heath Schulz continued their strong form down back.
Warrack Eagles reserves maintained its winning form with a workmanlike win over the Rats by 57 points.
The unbeaten Eagles jumped out of the blocks in the opening term to pile on six unanswered goals and set up a match winning lead by the first change.
In the absence of Steve Murphy, Dean Gunn took over rucking duties and with onballers Brent Marra, Lachie Morcom and Clinton Jonasson sent the ball deep into attack where forward line team-mates finished off their work.
Dale Hinkley, Tim Bell, Jae Williams and Ayden Roberts provided leading targets in attack that provided the necessary spark up forward.
After quarter time, the Eagles found the Rats a hard nut to crack as it was made to work hard to convert scoring chances with just two goals being scored in the second term.
One goal each showed the game tighten up as Ararat worked hard to limit the Eagles free scoring ability.
The second half was similar to the second term as the Eagles were restricted to two goals in each of the third and fourth quarters as Ararat was only able to kick one goal in the second half as the Eagles ran out comfortable victors.
Jake Cheney was again a driving force for the Eagles with his sweeping play across the half backline combining with Brandon Walsh, Paul Atkin and Mitchell Greenwood to restrict Ararat’s forward line.
Marra, Morcom and Jonasson continued to work hard to drive their side forward where Hinkley kicked three goals and Bell and Williams kicked two each.