HISTORY was made at Tigerland on Saturday when Mirboo North took the honours against Fish Creek by 13 points in the first official football match between the clubs since each was established in the early 1890s.
By 11.30am, all 150 parking spots around the oval were filled and an hour later the grandstand terraces were a sea of yellow and black and red and white jumpers, scarves, caps and beanies. From the outset, this much-awaited clash in front of Mirboo North’s biggest home attendance was a ding-dong roller-coaster battle of wills and skills, with pace that thrilled spectators.
Both sides went into the match unbeaten in 2021 and were primed to confront each other without negotiation.
Proceedings began at fever pitch with Jack Robertson just missing a 30-metre set shot, before Jeremy Salinger, Ben Campbell and a 50-metre penalty helped Robertson kick Mirboo North’s first major. The Tigers had most of the early play in their forward 50, but repeated inaccuracies had them sitting on 2.8 to 1.3 at quarter time.
Joe Brooks — who rucked all day — was feeding Campbell, Hudson Kerr and Mitchell Wightman with frequent clearance opportunities at the stoppages. Clancy Bennett, Tristan Salerno and Lloyd Powell provided Mirboo North with nourishing rebound drive from the back 50.
Joel Lambourn, Brayden Wilson and skipper Damien Turner were other Tigers throwing themselves into the action when it was their turn to go.
However, the Tigers’ poor goal shooting from close range continued in the second term. Too often, usually able kicks as reliable as a Swiss watch were unable to convert when it counted.
For all its hard work, a five-point advantage was all Mirboo North could take to the long break, with the scoreboard reading 3.11 to Fish Creek’s 3.6.
A successful snap from Rhys Kratzat and another two beauties by Kerr put Mirboo North firmly on the front foot in the third term. But three rear guard Fish Creek goals from the talented and strongly built Brady Mitchell closed the gap to four points.
Two time-on majors to Campbell steadied the Tigers, who went to the last change 18 points in front.
Fish Creek had a slight tail breeze in the last quarter, but it was Lambourn who won a free kick and goaled for the Tigers — before quick Kangaroo replies came from man-mountain Liam Adlington, Mitchell and Justin Smith.
Combining finesse with power, Smith, Jack Hayes, Thomas Cameron and Jai Stefani had their second winds and it seemed Fish Creek was ready to run over the top of the Tigers.
When a 50-metre penalty came Kerr’s way, he split the middle of the big white sticks and then another Mirboo North goal finally sealed Fish Creek’s fate. A further major to Smith and a behind after the siren from Mitchell reduced the Kangaroos’ final deficit to 13 points.
Another column could be put together with what’s been left out of this report — such was the amount of action going on during this exciting contest.
Fish Creek’s mission to dominate the air, control ground-level contests and kick a winning score soon had the Kangaroos cruising towards an impressive 44-point win over Mirboo North.
Jake Staley and Brock Stefani, with five and three goals respectively, tore the hearts out of Mirboo North’s struggling defenders. Sometimes, the Tigers’ perception of perceived pressure represented ill-conceived misconceptions that caused them to make less-structured disposal choices than would have been their preference.
Tom O’Loughlin was clearly Mirboo North’s best performer, whilst Jacob Vuillermin, Ben Stoertebecker and Zac Porter were also handy contributors.
Losing veteran playing coach Brent Harriage in a collision that later required four stitches on the top of his noggin was a body blow for the home side.
Damien McLean’s mark and tight-angled goal during the third quarter momentarily lifted Mirboo North’s spirits, before Stefani quickly answered for the Kangaroos.
Mirboo North’s 2021 season has thus far produced only one win from five matches and sees it currently sitting in 10th position on the ladder.
Thanks to Jedd Felmingham’s dominance in front of the big white sticks, Mirboo North gained momentum after quarter-time in its 62-point win over the Kangaroos.
Felmingham booted seven goals in the mighty Tigers’ comfortable win that also saw teammates Nick Cummaudo, Daniel Powell and Beau Peters frequently playing exemplary football in and around the packs.
This Saturday, Mirboo North’s third-placed Thirds have the bye.
Full football coverage in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times.
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