THE clash between South Mildura and Mildura was much anticipated as both teams continue to harbour finals aspirations.
To the uninitiated, a South win at home would have been a logical pre-game tip. Those that studied the form more deeply would have recognised the Dogs have struggled to replicate their early season form and Mildura have played some great team football of late.
However, even the most ardent Demons punter would not have expected a dominant Mildura display that would see them run out 43-point winners.
Mildura showed from the outset that they were willing to hunt the ball in numbers and then once in possession were prepared to share the ball with precise use.
Marcus Healy was instrumental as the lead-up half-forward providing the link that enabled a plentiful supply of forward-50 entries and while the final connection was not always clean, the supply meant Mildura looked more capable in the forward half.
South Mildura, by comparison, struggled to string enough clean possessions together that allowed their forwards the opportunity to compete one-out. More often the Dogs were sloppy and indecisive by foot and regularly turned the ball over.
Mildura have shown since the enforced break that they are prepared to work as a unit. A team-defence attitude mixed with an ability to share the ball and an understanding of when to pull the trigger and take the game on have them playing an attractive brand of football.
Reflective of the team-defence mentality was the fact the Demons were able to keep South Mildura to just one goal per quarter for the first three terms. The key to this was not only the cohesion of Mildura’s back six but the pressure the midfield was able to put on the Dogs players when they were in possession.
The ruck duel was intriguing. South Mildura’s Tyler Curtis has been one of the in-form big men in the competition, but he did not have it all his way against Mark Whitehead, who made his senior debut for Mildura. Curtis probably took the honours in this battle, but Mildura would have seen enough in Whitehead to suggest he will be a serviceable acquisition as they strive for a top-four spot.
While South may have marginally held the advantage in the ruck, they were well beaten through the midfield.
Mildura had many contributors. Ben Camilleri worked hard and hit the scoreboard, finishing with three goals. Josh Dean was strong around the packs and provided fellow onballers in Carmelo Lando and Zac Nelson with first use which supplied the forward line with their opportunities. Nine separate goal-scorers demonstrated Mildura had enough winners forward of the ball to capitalise on the chances.
South Mildura were disappointed with the loss as it means they now have a fight on their hands to retain their top-four spot.
South’s coach Ben Dalton said after the game: “We let ourselves down, didn’t execute our skills and turned the ball over at bad times and in bad areas.”
Dalton also noted that 11 different players took the field in this encounter as opposed to the round 4 clash when they defeated the Demons, and this turnover in personnel had exposed their depth.
By contrast, Mildura were very even across the board and, with recent inclusions, have added to their depth.
Post-game, Mildura co-coach Ilario Cavallo said: “This is the first time in a long time we have had 22 contributors, everyone played their role.”
MILDURA 13.14 (92)
SOUTH MILDURA 7.7 (49)
Mildura: B. Camilleri 3, J. Bower, A. Matthews 2, C. Lando, B. Rowles, A. Spencer, M. Healy, C. Kiel, B. Christodoulou.
South Mildura: P. Minniti, M. Min 2, T. Curtis, A. Gauci, B. Dalton.
Mildura: B. Camilleri, J. Dean, C. Lando, K. Dawson, M. Healy, Z. Nelson.
South Mildura: T. Stevens, T. Curtis, J. Cogan, D. Loveridge, N. Nolan, D. Scheele.
MILDURA are making a beeline for South Mildura’s top four position in the run home to the SFNL finals.
The Demons did the job against the Bulldogs at Sarah Oval today to the tune of 43 points, 13.14.92 to 7.7.49.
While the Dees come up against heavyweights Imperials and Irymple in their next two matches, they have bridged the gap between themselves and South to just two points.
Utility man Ben Camilleri kicked three goals in an impressive display, while experienced on ballers Josh Dean and Kane Dawson led the charge for Mildura
South young gun Taj Stevens and ruckman Tyler Curtis put in good stints for the home side, as did defender Jayden Cogan.