INVERLOCH-KONGWAK has taken a huge step in its 2016 campaign with a spirited 10-point win over Foster in a low-scoring slog at Inverloch.
The win puts the Sea Eagles in second spot by percentage, on equal points with Fish Creek, Dalyston and Foster.
The first half was a scrappy affair, with both sides struggling to contend with the slippery conditions under foot.
The home side missed a number of easy chances, while Foster’s accuracy in trying conditions saw the Tigers hold an eight-point lead at half time, with just four goals scored between the two sides.
It was after the main break that the Sea Eagles showed why they are a legitimate contender for this year’s premiership.
The workmanlike performances of Daniel Reid and Tom McQualter got the ball going I-K’s way, and Tom Wyatt quickly goaled to cut the deficit.
A free kick for holding and subsequent 50m penalty took Sea Eagle Lucas McMillan to the goal line as the home side hit the lead.
Dylan Clark continued the strong form that saw him win the best on ground medal in last week’s interleague match, pushing back to help in defence and moving into the middle as a mobile ruckman.
For Foster, Brad Rooney was racking up disposals and Matt Clark provided a strong target.
The Sea Eagles’ midfielders pushed hard into defence to chop off any attacking forays, restricting the visitors to just one behind for the term to hold onto a four-point lead at the
The match was anyone’s for the taking and I-K coach Ben Soumilas encouraged his side to pick a moment to back themselves and take on the game.
The Sea Eagles needed a forward to stand up and McMillan answered the call.
He juggled a mark and narrowly missed a shot at goal, and moments later took another strong mark, making no mistake on the second attempt to give his side breathing space.
Foster had the instant reply, but the home side was up for a fight.
Toby Mahoney capped off a fine performance with an impressive pack mark and calmly slotted the goal to give the Sea Eagles the ascendency.
After three quarters of scrappy football, the match opened up in the final quarter and this suited I-K.
Lewie Rankin was very busy up and down the ground, running back with the flight to take an important chest mark, before pushing forward to find the ball at half forward and deliver
He copped a late bump and McMillan was the beneficiary of the down field free kick and slotted a major from 30m on a slight angle to push the lead out to 16 points.
Michael Cooke was dangerous for the Tigers all day and had a quick reply after a Foster centre clearance to give his side a glimmer of hope.
But the Sea Eagles had all the answers, holding on for a fighting 10-point win.
With big men Brad Hender and Clinton McCaughan to return and regular senior players William Hetherington, Todd Lomax, Rowan Clark and Daniel Houston featuring prominently in the Reserves, the Sea Eagles are flying towards finals action.
Coach Soumilas’ brother Andrew was another handy addition to the senior side for his first game on Saturday and will add experience to the side.
I-K will be looking to continue its good form when it travels to play the Allies, while Foster will be eager to bounce back when it hosts Phillip Island.
Full coverage of the weekends football in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times.
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