Oakleigh have kept their finals chances alive with a strong win over the finals bound Northern Knights. The match that pitted sixth against 10th on the ladder was a high scoring and entertaining contest, with Oakleigh recording just their fourth win of the season, eventually running out 18-point winners. Both teams were missing key players (midfielders Jack Billings and Tom Cutler for Oakleigh; and the highly rated Ben Lennon for the Knights), but that didn’t stop it from being a tough contest, especially through the midfield.
An excellent start to the game saw Oakleigh kick 6.2 to 2.2 in the first quarter. They were clearly in control of general play, and their entries into the forward 50 were usually marked by clean disposal. However, the second quarter was a much more hotly contested affair, with Northern hitting back to score seven goals to five. Three of Northern’s goals came from free kicks, but were a result of some hard work they had done to create those opportunities. The Chargers managed to keep themselves in it by kicking two late goals, both of which were exciting and well executed end-to-end passages of play. The third quarter played out much the same, with Oakleigh just shading Northern five goals to four. In probably the most competitive quarter in the match, the Knights had several excellent passages of play that led to goals, although Oakleigh managed to restrict the scoring impact of their opponents with their excellent tackling pressure. The final quarter score line was much the same as that of the third (Oakleigh kicking four goals to three), but it was the Charger’s ability to keep control of the ball and make most of the running that ensured they hung on for victory.
There were a number of players who impressed for both teams. The standout on the ground all day was Oakleigh’s Will Maginness. The midfielder amassed a massive 38 disposals, 13 handball receives, one goal, five marks and five tackles. Apart from getting plenty of the ball, Maginness was influential in his ability to start chains of play for Oakleigh, and to break the Knights’ defensive lines. Even a shoulder injury in the final term, which saw him leave the field, was not enough to keep him down – he returned to have an impact for his team. The only knock on a wonderful performance was his kicking efficiency – 11 of his 13 kicks were ineffective.
Oakleigh had a number of other impressive players, namely defender Darcy Byrne-Jones, who managed to amass 23 disposals, two marks and five tackles, and was solid off half-back for Oakleigh all day. Forwards Nick Prowse and Marc Pittonet competed hard all day, and both took a number of excellent contested marks, kicking 3.1 and 2.0 respectively. In a match where no forward on the ground dominated, Prowse’s effort and work rate to kick three goals should not go unnoticed. Defender Jake Kelly competed hard all day, racking up 21 disposals and 11 uncontested marks in defence; however, his decision making under pressure often let him down.Northern had four particularly impressive players all day; midfielders Marcus Bontempelli, Matthew Haynes and Hugh Curnow, and forward Ciaran Porter. Bontempelli was everywhere, racking up 30 disposals, 6 marks and 7 tackles. His influence on the game in the second and fourth quarters particularly was phenomenal. The only negative of his performance that was lacking was his slow first quarter, where he took a while to influence the game. Curnow was one of the most impressive players on the ground all day. After Bontempelli, he was certainly one of the most influential. Seemingly in every contest for Northern, he willed himself to get the ball, and exerted excellent pressure on his opponents. His disposal count was not as high as some of his midfield counterparts (only 17), but his influence at contests and on the game as a whole for Northern was evident all day. Haynes was also excellent, amassing 23 disposals, ten handball receives and eight marks. Forward Porter was, along with Prowse and teammate Jason Castagna, the leading goal scorer on the ground all day, kicking 3.2 for the match. His excellent pressure inside forward 50 complemented his 17 disposals and six marks.
One player who had a quiet day was Oakleigh’s midfield dynamo Jay Kennedy-Harris. Usually a prolific ball winner, Kennedy-Harris had only 16 disposals, and three tackles. However, his excellent disposal efficiency is testament to the fact that when he did get the ball, he used it extremely well. He was also excellent under pressure, showing a cool head in pressure situations, and his nine handball receives highlighted his ability to break lines running through the midfield. Overall, it was a hard fought and entertaining contest. Oakleigh’s hopes for the remainder of the season will be buoyed by their tough win, whilst the Knights can hold their heads high after a good showing.
Oakleigh Chargers 20.10 130
Northern Knights 16.16 112
Oakleigh: N. Prowse (3), M. Pittonet (2), B. Gowers (2), J. Toohey (2), J. Ernest , A. Franetic , S. Tatupu , D. Byrne-Jones , A. Indovino , L. Fitzgerald , T. Carter-Taylor , A. Urban , B. Hogan , W. Maginness , A. Scott
Northern Knights: J. Castagna (3), C. Porter (3), J. Turner (2), M. Haynes (2), C. McCabe, K. Malone , L. Bowkett , H. Curnow , J. Short , M. Bontempelli
Oakleigh: W. Maginness, D. Byrne-Jones, B. Borland, N. Prowse, M. Pittonet, J. Kelly
Northern Knights: M. Bontempelli, C. Porter, M. Haynes, H. Curnow, T. Grimes, L. Hunt