Inaccurate Seagulls topple Blues
(Josh Pickess and Adam Marcon celebrate with teammate Liam Hunt who kicked a ripping goal in the last quarter. Photo by Martin Keep).
Williamstown overcame a major case of the goal-kicking yips to record a 21-point win over the Northern Blues at a windy Preston City Oval.
After booting the first two goals of the Round 16 contest, the Seagulls were dominating the inside 50s for the majority of the first half.
But poor kicking was proving costly when the half time scoreline read 4.10 to 4.3.
And when it read 4.20 at the final change of ends it seemed the away side would be left to rue their missed opportunities despite still leading by two points.
But the Seagulls eventually broke the dam wall to register the 8.22 (70) to 7.7 (49) victory - their fourth win in a row and fifth in six matches - which moves them 10 points clear in fourth position on the ladder.
Perennial ball-winners Mitch Hibberd (26 disposals) and Liam Hunt (25) were their prolific selves controlling the engine room and both added crucial goals in the last quarter.
Nick Mellington - who played in his first match since the Round 10 win over North Melbourne - did his inclusion no injustice feeding the ball out to his counterparts and playing a critical defensive role.
Defender Leigh Masters intercepted the home side’s forward thrusts religiously in another brave performance, along with Billy Myers and Nick Sing whose defensive efforts were sound.
Forwards Nick Rodda and Sam Dunell booted three and two goals respectively as the side’s only multiple goal-kickers.
The Seagulls restricted the Blues to just two inside 50s in the first 15 minutes of the game and signs were ominous when Rodda and Dunell kicked the first two goals.
But the home side found their feet and kicked the next four to take a 10-point lead into quarter time.
The Seagulls were then suddenly plagued by inaccuracy.
Aided by a slight breeze, it took four minor scores until Rodda was able to slot his second at the 15-minute mark, until another brace to Dunell ensured the Seagulls were seven points in front at the main break.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the goal-kicking troubles were becoming frustratingly comical.
The Blues’ 2.3 in the premiership quarter outweighed the Seagulls’ 0.10 - including three shots which hit the post.
Williamstown was simply unable to translate its field assertiveness into scoreboard dominance, despite taking a two-point lead into the final stanza.
Then a change of fortunes was experienced as the Seagulls put the foot to the floor.
A far cry from the first three quarters, Hunt dribbled through the hardest of shots from the pocket two minutes in to extend the lead to eight points.
Rodda’s third from a set shot and Hibberd’s long-range bomb from outside 50 meant it was going to be hard for the Blues to reel the 19-point margin back in a low-scoring affair.
Livewire forward Jaylon Thorpe put the icing on the cake late as the Seagulls held on for an impressive win away from home.
Williamstown will now prepare for potentially its biggest game of the year when it hosts second-placed Essendon at Downer Oval next Saturday.