SPIRITS are high at Kilmore after what coach Nathan Phillips described as one of the team’s best wins of the Northern Football Netball League season.
The Blues entered round 14 keen to atone for a surprise loss to Mernda seven weeks earlier.
Playing in front of the Kilmore faithful at JJ Clancy Reserve they did just that, leading wire to wire in an 8.14 (62) to 5.9 (39) victory.
Key to the win was veteran midfielder Mick Marrett, who was put in unfamiliar territory when asked to tag star Mernda onballer Ryan Bongetti.
Phillips said Bongetti, who kicked three goals in the first meeting between the sides this year, was nullified.
“[Bongetti] was best on ground last time against us – he tore us to bits,” Phillips said.
“We wanted Mick to be accountable for him at stoppages and around the ground while still trying to play his own game. He got forward and kicked a goal on him and would’ve had 22 or 23 touches himself.
“He kicked a goal when he was resting forward, but Mick smashed him.
“It was a disciplined effort by him because we’ve never been one to tag players. For him to sacrifice his game for the team was really pleasing.”
Also typifying Kilmore’s effort was midfielder Leigh Irons, who played most of the match with a dislocated finger, leading Phillips to label him ‘a bloody warrior’.
Phillips said the Blues would be well positioned to make a deep finals run if they could maintain their level of effort for the rest of the year.
“It was probably one of our best team performances of the year. I’m really happy with the all-round effort and intent from the boys,” he said.
“Last time we played them they came at us physically last time and we went to water a bit. It obviously hurt the boys a bit and stuck with them over the past six or seven weeks. They were pretty determined not to let that happen again.
“There was a three-minute period in the second quarter where [Mernda] had the footy at their end, and they had the breeze. There were only two goals in it at that point and had they kicked one they would have got their tails up.
“We just had repeat efforts to create stoppage after stoppage and just kept cracking in, tackling and putting pressure on the ball carrier – it was a credit to the boys.”
Phillips said Kilmore would enter this Saturday’s away game against winless Lalor with a ‘cleanish bill of health’ after key forward Grant Paxton rolled his ankle.
Phillips said Paxton and Irons were likely to be rested, along with Adam Milne who was a late withdrawal from Saturday’s game with achilles soreness.
Offsetting their losses are the potential returns of centre half forward Bailey Taylor-Egan, wingman Ciaran Barton and midfielder Hayden Phillips.
Whittlesea did not play at the weekend, with the league’s division one competition splitting round 14 across two weekends. The Eagles will host Montmorency this Saturday.