Werribee has fallen to its heaviest defeat of season 2018, going down to Port Melbourne by 78 points at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday.
Werribee: 3.1 6.2 6.4 9.8 (62)
Port Melbourne: 3.9 8.14 13.20 20.20 (140)
Werribee: J Corbett 2, T Gribble, S Collins, M Munro, B Rees, K Declase, J Porter, A Hooper
Port Melbourne: J Lisle 4, A Anastasio 3, D Conway 3, T Hobbs 3, B Pearson, I Conway, K Haretuku, E Phillips, M Wooffindin, W Goss, T O’Sullivan
Werribee: T Gribble, N Coughlan, J Corbett, S Collins, K Aylett, D Brew
Port Melbourne: S Lange, I Conway, M Arnot, D van Unen, M Rivett, T O’Sullivan
It was hard to believe it could all fall away so quickly.
With an unlikely goal from an even unlikelier source – a tight set shot in the pocket from key defender Sam Collins – Werribee had looked right in the hunt against Port Melbourne.
It hadn’t been as fluent or ferocious against the visiting Borough outfit as in its big breakthrough win over Box Hill a week earlier; but by seizing a few key opportunities in front of goal as the opposition squandered its early scoring chances, the home side had found itself just six points adrift approaching half time.
Chasing back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018, Werribee appeared set for a big second half. At the very least, it seemed all but assured of entering the main change within striking distance of its old foe.
Neither proved to be true. With three quick goals in the final three minutes of the second term, Port shot out to an even four-goal advantage. By three-quarter time, the game was effectively done, the Borough having piled on a further 5.6 to Werribee’s two behinds.
Deep into the fourth quarter, still the red-and-blue train rolled on. First-gamer Julian Lockwood had the chance to stop the rot before a skidding bounce on the early-evening dew put paid to a seemingly certain goal. It seemed to sum up a sorry second half for the hosts and a forgettable maiden run for Lockwood and fellow debutante Cassidy Parish.
Not until the 20min mark of the final term did Josh Corbett finally find a response for the home side. By then, Port had strung together 13 unanswered goals, paving the way for a 78-point final margin that would prove to be Werribee’s heaviest defeat of the season.
Acknowledging the strong local crowd that had turned out to Avalon Airport Oval to lend its support over the Queen’s Birthday weekend, senior coach John Lamont was almost apologetic post match.
“We’ve had our worst performance of the year, which is particularly disappointing after what was probably our best performance of the year last week,” Lamont said.
“We weren’t playing great footy early, but then after half time, we just never got going. We defended poorly, and it’s ended up an embarrassing loss for us at home.
“We had good numbers of people here to watch the team play, and we just haven’t delivered the way we can, the way we need to, and the way we should.”
If Werribee’s effort levels after half time were found wanting, the same couldn’t be said for the coaching staff, who looked to get creative in an effort to halt the opposition momentum.
Ethan Petterwood was sent down back as Ryley Barrack pushed up onto the wing and Brenton Rees and Ben Moloney went forward. But none of it managed to generate the lift in defensive pressure or tightening up with ball in hand required to stem the red-and-blue tide.
Despite the ruck dominance of Jack Berry – whose 48 hitouts saw him well and truly get the better of Port big men Khan Haretuku and Guy Dickson – and the Werribee midfield almost managing to break even at the clearances, the Borough finished well clear in the forward-entry count, its end marking totals of just two of 98 contested a telling indicator of the ease with which it moved the ball.
On a day where positives were hard to come by for the home side, Tom Gribble was a standout in the midfield, leading the possession (30), clearance (seven), and inside-50 (five) counts for his team.
An inability to stick crucial tackles proved a major concern for Werribee as a whole but not so for Dom Brew, who led the way for his side with a game-high 12, while Kurt Aylett was also solid defensively in the middle (nine tackles) while finding plenty of the footy himself (24 disposals).
Under constant siege, Collins and Nick Coughlan stood up about as well as could be hoped, while Corbett again proved to be the key target at the other end of the ground as Werribee’s only multiple goal-scorer, his team-high 10 marks including seven contested.
Saturday had loomed as a prime opportunity for Werribee to enter the mid-season bye with its first real run of momentum for the year. Instead, it will now need to use the week off to draw breath and reset in the hope of kickstarting its 2018 campaign against Frankston at Skybus Stadium on June 24.