Werribee has recorded its first win of 2017 with a hard-fought victory over Essendon at Arden Street.
Eager to make a statement after their 0-2 start to the season, the Tigers took control of the game early in the second term, a five-goal-to-two quarter giving them a 16-point advantage at the main break.
The Bombers came hard early in the third term but were unable to inflict any serious damage on the scoreboard, finishing the quarter with a wasteful 1.8, and Werribee took control approaching the final change to restore the margin to 16.
From there, the Tigers never looked in doubt, pushing the margin out to almost five goals in the final term before the Bombers pared it back with a consolation goal in the dying stages.
Having been frustrated by his side’s inability to string together a four-quarter effort in its opening two games, Werribee senior coach John Lamont was pleased with his side’s ability to respond to the Essendon challenge in the third term.
“It was a really positive game,” said Lamont.
“Essendon got right on top [in the third quarter], peppered the goals, but we were lucky in that we rebounded the ball well in that period and kicked two goals against the flow.
“It gave us a nice little buffer at three-quarter time, and we were able to convert the lead into a win, so it was really, really pleasing.”
Aside from the need for a Werribee victory, much of the talk entering the game had centred on high-profile North Melbourne inclusions Andrew Swallow and Lindsay Thomas, and both had a big impact for the Tigers.
Back in the midfield after having recently spent time forward for the Kangaroos, Swallow racked up a team-high 24 disposals and finished with a game-high 10 tackles and eight clearances, while Thomas was electric up forward with four goals – his fourth coming on the back of an absolute screamer – and a further three goals assists.
But the performances of Werribee’s regulars were just as pivotal to the win. For the second week in a row, captain Michael Sodomaco was his team’s best player, collecting 23 disposals across the backline and rebounding the ball out of defensive 50 on seven occasions.
Ryley Barrack also piled on the defensive pressure, providing a number of crucial spoils and laying a couple of big tackles, while Jordan Jones continued his impressive return to the midfield with seven clearances and five inside-50s among his 19 disposals.
In his third and final game as 23rd man, youngster Max Augerinos continued to show his capability at the VFL level, collecting 13 disposals, laying seven tackles, and recording a game-high six inside-50s.
The result leaves both Werribee and Essendon at 1-2 after their first three matches, but the Tigers can take a lot of confidence from having well and truly got the better of a side that was only narrowly beaten by Sandringham in Round 1 and handed down a serious thumping to Collingwood last week.
Earlier in the day, Werribee’s development team went down by 41 points to Port Melbourne at a muddy North Port Oval.
Trailing by 26 at the main change, the Tigers came within less than three kicks deep in the third term before two late goals to the Borough gave it the momentum it needed to run away with the game in the final term.
Wagga recruit Charlie Bance was impressive through the midfield to finish as Werribee’s best, while Louis Pinnuck topped the goalkicking with three majors.
The team suffered a blow before the ball had even been bounced, Billy Iles unable to take his place in the starting line-up after being concussed in the warm-up.
Werribee’s VFL and development teams now both look towards next Sunday’s fixture against the Casey Demons at Hogans Road Reserve in Hoppers Crossing, where both senior sides will be looking to notch their second win and even their ledger.
Peter Jackson VFL
Werribee: 3.3 8.7 10.9 14.13 (97)
Essendon: 3.7 5.9 6.17 9.20 (74)
Lindsay Thomas 4, Corey Wagner 2, Matt Hanson 2, Matt Munro 2, Josh Williams, Nick Larkey, Braydon Preuss, Mitch Hibberd
Michael Sodomaco, Declan Mountford, Andrew Swallow, Ryley Barrack, Braydon Preuss, Lindsay Thomas
AFL Victoria Development League
Port Melbourne: 5.1 10.4 14.8 20.10 (130)
Werribee: 4.4 5.8 9.9 13.11 (89)
Louis Pinnuck 3, Tom Ellard 2, Josh Corbett 2, Frank Campisi, Jordyn Cotter, Charlie Bance, Brandon Houlihan, Matthew Brett, Joe Maishman
Charlie Bance, Louis Pinnuck, Joe Maishman, Jack Williams, Dominic Brew, Matthew Brett