GOOD Friday delivered the chocolates again for Irymple as the Sunraysia Football and Netball League (SFNL) champions began their reign after a year off.
While it wasn’t a perfect display from the Swallows by any means, the class of the boys in blue and gold was good enough to register a 47-point win over a brave South Mildura in the searing heat.
While the Bulldogs showed some bite at times and a few of their new recruits look like solid inclusions, they were no match for the better-skilled Swallows at Sarah Oval.
Jason Eagle kicked 4.5 in his homecoming, while new co-coach Nick Mee led his troops from the front, especially when the game was more delicately balanced in the third term.
You could throw a blanket over the rest of the side to pick your best players, with Nando Cirillo and Zac Wandin impressive from half-back, Mick Dimasi showing dash and sleight of hand on a wing, and the experience of Nathan Hamence and Nick Pezzaniti coming to the fore.
While 2019 McLeod Medal winner Dan Coghlan didn’t have his best day out, he still delivered some trademark class, epitomised by a one-handed pick-up and burst from the centre square to goal from 50 metres. The ability was reminiscent of the lunch tray scene from the 2002 Spiderman movie.
Young guns Mitch Roads and Connor Mensch also had their moments to shine.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Dogs though. Reigning best and fairest Dom Scullino had a mighty tussle with Pezzaniti and may have even won the battle, and midfield maestro Matt Spencely looked a class above for much of the game. His ability to find space where there is none will be important this season.
Defender Ben Notting was charged with marking the hulking Eagle and showed some good poise and strength in some one-on-one contests, however the sheer number of forward 50 entries left him with too much to do.
Forward Matthew Min also showed he will be a good asset, however he was also left having to do too much against superior numbers at times.
Debutants Taj Stevens and Mason Fitzgerald showed some promise, as did winger Tyson Giles.
Irymple’s Mitch Christensen’s day finished early after a heavy contest with Brayden Wood left him dazed from head contact. Even if the SFNL follows AFL protocols of a mandatory 12-day absence with concussion, the split round will work in the young gun’s favour.
In two weeks’ time, Irymple have a grand final re-match with Imperials at Henshilwood Oval, while the Dogs travel to Tiger Town to take on Red Cliffs.
IRYMPLE 2.4 7.6 11.8 15.13(103)
STH MILDURA 1.3 2.4 5.11 7.14(56)
Goals: Irymple: J. Eagle 4, J. Healy 3, N. Pezzaniti 2, N. Mee 2, J. Hura, M. Roads, D. Coghlan, C. Mensch. South Mildura: K. McDonald 2, M. Spencely 2, M. Min, T. Giles, H. Kiel.
Best: Irymple: N. Mee, M. Dimasi, N. Cirillo, Z. Wandin, J. Eagle, N. Hamence, N. Pezzaniti. South Mildura: D. Scullino, M. Spencely, B. Notting, M. Min, T. Giles, T. Curtis.
Three things we learnt:
PRECISION WINS OUT: In the opening game of the new season, in sweltering conditions, you could forgive both sides for running out of legs as the match went on. Irymple’s accuracy by hand and foot became even more apparent because of this. While South tried to play a possession game at times, their foot skills weren’t on par with the Swallows, who carved their way forward with ease, often catching the defence out of position.
SPENCELY IS A BEAUTY: Of all the newcomers to the Kennel, Riverland addition Matt Spencely made the biggest impression in game 1. He did it all, finding space in traffic, taking big marks, directing traffic from half-back and getting the hard ball. He might be built like a whippet but the on-baller is strong through the core and was able to shrug a number of tackles. He also finished the day with two goals to round out a strong debut.
OPEN ROADS: With the focus on Jason Eagle, Nick Pezzaniti and Jake Healy, Mitch Roads maybe escaped the attention of a few onlookers. However, he looks dangerous as a leading centre half-forward. Often getting separation from his opponent and moving the ball on quickly to the outside runners, the young forward looks like he’s found his niche in the line-up.
Irymple 3.1 4.4 6.6 10.7(67)
South Mildura 1.2 4.8 4.8 5.9(39)
GOALS: Irymple: Brayden Phipps 3, Jarrod Aiello 2, Bradley Mentiplay 1, Oliver Hamilton 1, Todd George 1, Carmine Cavallaro 1, Liam Graham 1
South Mildura: Thomas Fiorillo 2, Hayden Cook 1, Lachlan Fisher 1, Fletcher Doddridge 1.
BEST: Irymple: Riley Ward, Joshua Moritz, Todd George, Bradley Mentiplay, Brayden Phipps, Carmine Cavallaro. South Mildura: Zachary Gillard, Joseph Nesci, Nicholas Callipari, Joseph Zappia, John Horkings, Steven Sellens.
Irymple 1.5 2.9 5.17 8.18 (66)
South Mildura 1.1 3.4 5.4 6.4 (40)
GOALS: Irymple: Keenan Wade 3, Max Cirigliano 2, Zachary Furey 2, Tyler Lackamann 1. South Mildura: David McDonald 2, Aaron Cogan 1, Max Spain 1, Jed Garrett O’Connor 1, Flynn Tiley 1
BEST, Irymple: Massimo Cirillo, Keenan Wade, Kade Baynes, Archer Hammond, Max Cirigliano. South Mildura: Flynn Tiley, Max Spain, Patrick McLaughlan, Jedd Anderson.
Under 16 2021
Irymple 6.2, 10.7, 13.10, 17.15 (117)
South Mildura 1.0, 1.1, 2.1, 2.2 (14)
GOALS, Irymple : Ned Oldham 7, Eddie Andronescu 2, Harry Bottams 2, Alex Hollingworth 1, Lucas Pettit 1, Harry Knight 1, Massimo Tabacco 1, Brodie Ryan 1, Dakoda Hensgen 1.
South Mildura : Kai Andriske 1, Brodie Fitzgerald 1
BEST, Irymple : Ned Oldham, Toby Scott, Zac Carra, Alex Hollingworth, Harry Bottams, Cooper Milsom.
South Mildura : Lewis Dichiera, Archer Wootton, Billy Reid, Isaiah Bettess, Kai Andriske, Oscar Tiley.
Under 14 2021
South Mildura 1.1, 4.5, 5.6, 7.7 (49)
Irymple 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 3.3 (21)
GOALS, South Mildura : Joseph Falvo 3, Darby Fitzgerald 2, Bailey McLaughlan 1, Oscar Tiley 1.
Irymple : Luca Burford 2, Dashiell Hopgood 1.
BEST, South Mildura : Bailey McLaughlan, Oscar Tiley, Joseph Falvo, Hunter Strong, Flynn Berry, Darby Fitzgerald.
Irymple : Mikael Ale, Joshua Furey, Harper Milsom, Luca Burford, Antonio Cavallaro.
Story and photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily