KILCUNDA-BASS showed composure when it was needed most, kicking the final two goals of the day to seal a thrilling five-point victory over arch rival Phillip Island at Bass.
And once again it was renowned livewire forward Jason Wells who stepped up at the opportune moment, as he gathered the ball on a tight angle and snapped brilliantly around his body from 30m to put the Panthers in front at the 21-minute mark of the final term to give his side its first win of the season.
In a scrappy contest that was an arm wrestle throughout the day, the Panthers simply won the important moments in the match, while the Bulldogs wasted opportunities and couldn’t land the knockout blow.
It was neck and neck throughout the contest, with playing coach Brent Macaffer proving he is more than just a big name with a consistent four-quarter effort, providing much of the grunt work inside for his side and feeding the likes of Chris Endres and Danny Wells.
In the absence of prolific goalkicker Luke James and centre half forward Matt Moore, it was up to Jason Wells and Tim Smith to shoulder the workload up forward.
While Wells missed a few shots to let the Island off the hook, he looked dangerous every time he went near the footy.
For the Island, Jaymie Youle’s work in the clinches was exceptional, youngster Jack Keating showed glimpses of his talent across half forward and the wing, and Mark Griffin was a prime mover for the Bulldogs.
With only a solitary behind separating the two sides at the final break and just 13 goals scored between the two sides, the match was destined for an exciting finish.
A lucky chain of events for the Island saw them kick their only goal of the final term.
A kick out from Kilcunda-Bass from an out of bounds free kick travelled to half back, where a fluky kick out of mid-air from an Island player landed in the hands of Island forward Steve Pimm 25m out and he slotted the set shot to give the Bulldogs a five-point lead.
It was Pimm’s only goal for the day as Panther defender Matt Edwards kept him quiet throughout the contest.
The Island had all the momentum for the first half of the final term, with most of the play in their forward half.
They looked to be on top, but an inability to capitalise on their hard work up forward would come back to haunt them.
A series of misses put them nine points ahead, before Smith provided a spark for the Panthers.
A long ball to the top of the goal square saw him outmuscle his opponent for a strong one-on-one mark and he had no troubles from point blank range to bring his side within striking distance.
The Panthers were suddenly full of run and Smith was in the action again when a shot from near the clubrooms saw him celebrating early, but it narrowly missed.
Ruckman Ben Law’s big influence on the match shone in the final term, particularly when he chopped off an Island kick out of defence for an important grab.
A near miss by Codie Smith brought the Panthers within one point, before Jason Wells brought the game alive with a stunning snap to win the match and finish with five majors.
With seconds ticking away, the Panthers managed to hold on and record their first win of the season.
Kilcunda-Bass will take confidence into what’s expected to be a tough contest when they host Garfield this week, while Phillip Island will be looking to rebound when they host Korumburra-Bena.
Full football coverage in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times.
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