Dalton in charge of the kennel again

SOUTH Mildura Sporting Club coach Ben Dalton knows the field well.

When you’ve been brought up around football, and raised on the sidelines, it’s only natural.

“I was at local football every weekend from a baby,” the 28-year-old told Mildura Weekly recently.

“Coming from a sporting family who was heavily involved in our local club, and also being the youngest of four children, I started in Auskick at six years of age.”

Dalton, who was born and raised in Warrnambool, moved to Brisbane for five years for University, before returning back to his hometown, and then moving onto Mildura.

“I moved to Mildura from Warrnambool in June of 2019 with my wife Rachel to start our business F45 Training Mildura,” the personal trainer said.

Dalton played all of his junior football with South Warrnambool in the Hampden Football Netball Leauge and played his first senior game with the club at 17.

“When I was 19, I moved to Brisbane to play for Morningside in the NEAFL/QAFL for four years before returning back to my home club South Warrnambool in 2018,” he said.

“I missed season 2019 with moving to Mildura mid year, before signing with South Mildura.”

Dalton signed with South Mildura during the 2020 preseason, but with the season cancelled due to COVID, he didn’t play his first game with the club until Round One of 2021.

“There was a nice sentiment in coming to South Mildura from South Warrnambool,” he said.

“I joined South because I saw it as a club that I could have a real impact on.

“It was a great fit for me and where I was at that point in time of my football.

“I have been lucky enough to play in successful football sides, so I really wanted to be able to give back and pass on things I had learnt over my football career.

“I also was very welcomed by the playing group.

“The leaders of the club had started training at my gym, which made it really easy decision to go to South after they became great mates.”

Dalton plays off the half back line for the Bulldogs, believing it assists in controlling the structures of the team.

He said it is the best position for a playing coach as you can see the game unfolding.

“In previous seasons I would say my strengths would have been my attack and skill coming off the half back line,” he reflected.

“Now as a coach, my role has changed and it would now be more about leadership on the field, helping to set up team structure and communicating amongst the playing group.

“I think I have brought a fresh set of eyes to the club with different ideas.

“A big thing I have looked to implement at the club is lifting the standard each player holds themselves to; both on and off the field.”

Next season Dalton said he is looking forward to continuing to see the development in the group and improve on their 2021 season.

He said the club seen huge improvement from the list last season and they will continue to develop that so they are more competitive each week.

“We are looking forward to winning more games of football and getting South Mildura back playing finals football,” he added.

“We want to continue to bridge the gap between South Mildura and the best teams in the competition.

“I will always take team success over any individual performance so that will be my main focus for next season.”

Story & photo courtesy of Mildura Weekly

Round 13 – Dees close gap on Dogs

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)



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.

Hayden “Cooks” up 300 games

SOUTH Mildura Sporting Club (SMSC) veteran Hayden Cook says getting to his 300th club game this weekend is an “absolute privilege”.

Cook says it was “ending up at a training session in 2002 and never leaving” that has seen his longevity and loyalty to SMSC span almost 20 years.

“There were a few connections between South and my previous club at Loxton North,” Cook said.

“Through those networks, I ended up at a South training session and never left.

“Very few of the original players are still around but Denny Fox, who I played with then and over the years, is pulling the boots back on to take the field this weekend with me.”

After eight seasons with Loxton North, Cook made the permanent move to Mildura in 2002 and the rest is history.

“I have played 16 or 17 seasons in the seniors, and am into my fourth season in the reserves,” he says.

“We played in a few finals over the years, but didn’t have any luck with winning a flag in the seniors.

“But in 2018, it was great to get hold of an unexpected premiership in the reserves.

“I’ve had a great football journey at South Mildura and luckily I have had very few injuries.”

When it comes to memories that stick in his mind, Cook says breaking the South Mildura senior club record tops the list.

“It was a real honour to play the game where I broke the South Mildura senior club record,” he recalls.

“It was my 224th game, we lost by seven points against Mildura at Mildura but it was a special game nonetheless.

“I’m sure this record will get broken by some of the younger players coming through, like Dom Scullino, who has been playing senior football from an early age. It will be great for the club to have some more milestone players.”

But Cook admits not all of his football memories are pleasant.

“I have had many inspirational coaches over the years at South, probably 10 or so,” he says.

“But Tony Berry was the toughest.

“I remember we lost a game over at No.1 Oval. I don’t even think it was by much, but he made us train for an hour afterwards in the dark over at No. 3 Oval – I’m sure we won the following week,” he said with a laugh.

Cook says the aim was now to play next season with his son.

“I would like to think that I could possibly play with my son next year but we will see how things unfold,” he said.

“Otherwise, I will enjoy to continue to be involved with the club after I finish playing and help out with the juniors.

“It’s good to be involved in a sporting community – there are many families that we have become very close to over the years.

“All of the kids grew up together around the club and now the kids are involved playing and it’s enjoyable watching them develop their love for sport.

“It’s been a privilege to be able to play all these games and I’m looking forward to playing my 300th at home.”

Story and photos courtesy of Sunraysia Daily


Round 12 – Bulldogs survive late scare

SOUTH Mildura coach Ben Dalton’s three-quarter time address was all about finishing off the job and building percentage to ensure the Bulldogs could strengthen their hold on a top-four spot.

But he forgot to tell Robinvale Euston about those plans, as the Eagles found new life in the final quarter to almost pull off an unlikely victory at John James Oval.

The Eagles piled on the last five goals to cut a 33-point margin to just three points, and with the ball in their forward line as the siren went.

Dalton, however, was still happy that the hard work by his troops early was enough to bank the four points.

“A win’s a win, and you’ve got to win ugly sometimes. That’s the important part of starting a game well.” Dalton said.

“Each team had times where their momentum swung their way, and with a three to four-goal breeze going across the ground we probably utilised that better earlier in the game to put ourselves in a position to win.

“It was nice to hold on and get the four points.”

Fears that losing gun recruit Matthew Spencely back to Waikerie would hinder the Bulldogs’ finals hopes appear to be diminished, with Dalton entrusting local talent to fill the void.

“The biggest improvement has come from the blokes already at the club who have gone through the hard times, with Nathan Nolan, Jayden Cogan, Deklan Loveridge, Tyler Curtis and (the injured) Dom Scullino all playing career-best football,” Dalton said.

“They’re probably the ones who have driven (the rise up the ladder) this year as well.”

Cogan’s phenomenal work to nullify Ricardo Liparota’s scoreboard impact was crucial in helping South Mildura build their buffer; so much so that Liparota was moved into the midfield in the final quarter.

While not throwing in the towel was a major positive, Eagles assistant coach Vince Iudica echoed the heartbreak and disappointment of the group, lamenting what might have been if earlier turnovers and scoring inaccuracies did not occur.

“We didn’t take the opportunities early on, we missed a lot of goals clearly right in front, and we turned the ball over out of our back half a couple of times.” Iudica said.

“You add all that up, there’s probably anywhere from three to six goals that we’ve either leaked or we haven’t kicked that we should have.

“That forces you to chase backsides all day, and although it was good that the boys didn’t put the cue in the rack and we finished with a wet sail, not too many teams are good enough to continually miss open shots at goal and then recover from it.

“It leaves you with that thing where ‘oh, we just missed’, which put ourselves in a horrible position.”

Iudica sang the praises of reserves ruck turned seniors full back Noah Foster, who was superb in shutting down Bulldogs spearhead Matthew Min.

Min’s two goals did not come from any one-on-one contests with Foster, and it was the first time he has failed to kick three or more in a game since round 1.

“Noah’s has had a fantastic past month for us,” Iudica said.

“He’s played on the best forward every week, and you’ll be lucky to find if he’s had five goals kicked on him in that time.

“We think we’ve found someone in him, and he’s our gem in the rough, because five weeks ago he wasn’t in contention of playing seniors.”

SOUTH MILDURA 10.11 (71)



South Mildura: K. McDonald 3, M. Fitzgerald, M. Min, N. Fitzgerald 2, J. McEwen.

Robinvale Euston: J. Mezzatesta, M. Bowden 2, M. Zappia, J. Neyland, P. Kuma, J. Calvert, E. Gill.


South Mildura: J. Cogan, T. Curtis, N. Fitzgerald, N. Nolan, D. Loveridge, L. Wood.

Robinvale Euston: N. Foster, J. Neyland, J. Mezzatesta, M. Zappia, J. Calvert, R. Middlebrook.

Story & photos courtesy of Sunraysia Daily


Round 6 – Pies & Dogs in thrilling stalemate

MENTAL health awareness may have been the aim of the day, but hearts could have done with some support at Kenny Park as well.

Merbein and South Mildura have impressed all to start 2021 and the sides played out a thrilling draw in front of a raucous crowd in a game that could have gone either way on multiple occasions.

Both teams missed gilt-edged opportunities in the final term, and the Magpies’ woeful inaccuracy probably cost them overall in an entertaining arm wrestle that, despite its lack of highlights, was a contest of monumental proportions.

It is the first draw in the SFNL since June 1, 2019 when Robinvale Euston and Irymple finished equal, while previous to that there were two ties in the 2013 season.

Joe Cavallo and Tyler Curtis were the two outstanding players from the ‘It’s Okay, not to be Okay’ contest, with a coin toss required to decide the votes. There were no passengers for either side as they attacked each contest with almost reckless abandon and no fear for their own safety.

Merbein co-coach Paddy Irwin said it was a match of contrasting styles.

“South used their uncontested footy really well and I thought we were able to hang tight and crack in and will ourselves into some contests,” he said.

“Goal kicking is the most important pressure act in the game. I think we had six more scoring shots and I even think in the second half we missed three from 30 metres out. If you get that right maybe the result could have been different, but history tells us it’s not.

“You can’t spend too much time looking back out the rear-view mirror. We are both sides that are hoping to be there later in the season. We’ve got a couple more challenges coming up that we have to get ourselves ready for. You can’t dwell on it.”

Bulldogs co-coach Ben Dalton, who was outstanding at half-back, said it was a sombre feeling post-game.

“Both teams probably had an opportunity to win the game at points, especially during the last quarter,” he said.

“It was a dogfight all day and we knew it was going to be contested, but it’s one of those ones that hopefully doesn’t come back to bite you later in the year. That’s probably the thing we’re dwelling on at the moment, hopefully it doesn’t come down to two points at the business end of the year when you’re fighting for finals spots.

“Merbein are a really good one-on-one contested team and at times we probably got caught in the trap of playing into their hands, and when we could move the football the way we wanted to we got on top. It was one of those kinds of games where we played into their hands at times and we didn’t execute as well as we would like.

“I think for us the bye was a bit of a momentum killer for us. You rock up on the Tuesday at training and you should be fresh and up and about, but we just probably weren’t good enough on the track. We just need to make sure again that the energy and intensity is there and that’s the good thing about football, we have another 10 rounds to go to bounce back and hopefully we can put this one behind us and play better football next week.”

Merbein’s Sam Brinsmead looks like the major injury concern, going down with a hamstring late in the game.

Nathan Nolan was tasked with quelling Josh Carmichael, who has been in outstanding form to start the season. And perhaps outside of the first and last 10 minutes, the Dogs defender did the job. Co-coach Ben Dalton said Nolan’s ability to play attacking and defensive footy made him the ideal stopper to shadow the Magpies star. It could also be the blueprint for other teams to combat Carmichael going forward.

MERBEIN 7.17 (59)


GOALS: Merbein: J. Kennedy 2, A. Rowe, A. Coluccio, J. Buckley, J. Carmichael, J. Cavallo. South Mildura: M. Min, H. Kiel 2, A. Gauci, T. Stevens, N. Fitzgerald, J. Anderson.

BEST: Merbein: J. Cavallo, A. Rowe, J. Buckley, V. Rodi, A. Arden, M. Rix. South Mildura: T. Curtis, B. Dalton, N. Nolan, M. Spencely, T. Stevens, J. Cogan.

Story & photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

Round 5 – Bulldogs bite Roos

Bulldogs’ playing coach Ben Dalton couldn’t be happier with how his side is tracking after Saturday’s thumping win.

“This was the first time this season when we really stamped our authority on the game,” he said.

“We built some good scoreboard pressure in the first half. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve pulled away in the second half after being level-pegging at half-time.

“So to build up a good (39-point) buffer at half-time and then run out the game was fantastic.”

Dalton said one of the keys to victory against Ouyen was reducing the amount of unforced errors, such as turnovers.

“Our ball use was really good – and we had fewer errors than we’ve had in earlier games this year,” he said.

He said the Bulldogs’ long-term plan for the 2021 season was already paying off.

“We had a very clear indication of how we wanted to play this season from when we started pre-season in November,” Dalton said.

“We had a heavy pre-season with the running and focus on ball movement – and both of those things are working well for us now.

“We played a really good spread game against Ouyen. Our overlap and run was positive – and that’s where we got them.

“They were carrying a few injuries and fielded a bigger side, and we were able to make the ground quite big with our spread and carry.

“We went into this season wanting to improve and match it with the best teams in the competition, and we’re certainly doing that.”

NO EX-SPENCE SPARED: Matt Spencely has brought real class to the Bulldogs’ kennel. The 25-year-old previously played with Adelaide’s SANFL side, where he won the Crows’ Dean Bailey Award as best development player in 2015. Even as a midfielder he averaged just under three goals a game in four years at Waikerie, including consecutive flags from 2016 to 2018. It’s not hyperbole to suggest he could become of the most damaging players in the SFNL after his five-goal haul.

OUYEN WOES: The Kangas were touted as one of the premiership fancies ahead of the 2021 season, so to see them stuck without a win in their first four outings is surprising. Co-coach Brad Vallance was correct, however when he said finals aren’t won in May. They will rue losing two games by less than a goal. They can still work their way back into contention, but they won’t want to leave it too late.

NOD TO NOLAN: Nathan Nolan is one of a number of Bulldogs who have come on in leaps and bounds this season. Coming off a best-on-ground performance against Mildura the previous week, the half-back has become an intercept machine and was influential once again in stopping a dangerous Ouyen United forward line.

OUYEN United were one of the flag favourites heading into the SFNL season.

Hopes were high that the proud club would turn around a below-par 2019, when they just missed out on playing finals footy after winning the flag in two of the three previous years.

However, heading into the interleague break they are winless with a 0-4 record and sit anchored at the bottom of the ladder with Red Cliffs.

Their latest loss – an 80-point drubbing at the hands of South Mildura (4-1) on Saturday – exposed the young side’s lapses in concentration and the need to improve their fitness levels.

But according to co-coach Brad Vallance, “it’s not all doom and gloom for us”.

“We spoke about this after the game. We’re not giving up on the season,” said Vallance, who was one of Ouyen’s best players against the Bulldogs.

“Finals aren’t won in May – and we’ve been in this position before. With such an even comp this year, there’s not going to be a runaway top four.

“We’ve had two narrow losses so we could have been 2-2. We’re not far away and we just need to string a few wins together and the confidence will naturally come back.”

Vallance conceded his side went into the season “a bit underdone” due to injuries, including a groin strain to himself, and a lack of match practice.

“We also haven’t found the consistency we’re looking for,” he said.

“I don’t think we’ve fielded our best 22 for the year so far. We’re still trying to piece it together.

“When we get our best side out on the park, we’ll start to play better footy.”

Vallance praised the Bulldogs’ performance on the weekend.

“We got beaten in the middle, and their run and spread made it difficult for us. They are a well-drilled, quality team,” he said.

SOUTH MILDURA 21.12 (138) d OUYEN UNITED 8.10 (58)

GOALS: South Mildura: M. Spencely 5, K. McDonald, M. Min 4, T. Curtis, C. Sellens, H. Kiel 2, A. Gauci, N. Fitzgerald. Ouyen United: T. Hulland, W. Brady 2, B. Vallance, L. Stanbrook, A. Morrish, B. Mole.

BEST: South Mildura: M. Spencely, T. Curtis, N. Nolan , J. Cogan, H. Kiel, K. McDonald. Ouyen United: W. Brady, S. Mead, J. McGlynn, B. Vallance, L.

Round 4 -Bulldogs start to growl

THE excitement is palpable at South Mildura, who are having their best start to an SFNL campaign since 2014.

The Bulldogs were locked in an entertaining arm wrestle with Mildura for much of the first half before their ability to run and spread opened the game up in the third term, leading to a 23-point victory.

Having not played finals since 2012 and also the longest active premiership drought of 23 years, the Bulldogs have shown plenty of spark early in the 2021 campaign, and with a new playing style and new-look team, they have put themselves into early contention for a ticket to the business end of the season.

Playing coach Ben Dalton said there was a lot of belief among the playing group.

“I think that’s one of the biggest things so far this year is that we’ve brought in the right people, and there’s definitely a different culture around the club, which is fantastic,” he said.

“There’s a lot of excitement with the new oval to look forward to next year as well. Wins are the best thing to help generate that atmosphere, and as long as we can keep doing that it will be great for us.”

Nathan Nolan played a a blistering intercepting game, racking up the Supercoach points by cutting off a number of Demons’ forays.

Forward Matthew Min was creative, kicking three goals and setting up a number more, while fellow recruits Matt Spencely, Ben Dalton and Haydn Kiel were also impressive.

Ruckman Tyler Curtis gave his side first use and skipper Chris Sellens was also important, particularly in the third quarter.

“I think that’s the best thing about the recruits that we’ve brought in, they’ve made the blokes who were already at the club better again,” Dalton said.

“They were already good footballers but now that they’ve got better footballers around them, it’s probably brought them up to another level again. Getting an extra 10 or 15 per cent out of your current list is massive for us.

“Nathan Nolan had a great game off the half-back line, he’s had a really good start to the year, Tyler Curtis was very dominant in the ruck. We also had some really good improvements out of our two younger players Mason Fitzgerald and Taj Stevens, who probably had their best games of the year. They’re now four games into their senior careers and starting to find their feet a bit more.”

Mildura were missing first-choice players Josh Martin, Josh Dean, Ben Christodoulou, Regan Cavallaro and Jack Bower, but started the better of the two sides.

Big man Anthony Matthews threatened to tear the game apart early, bagging four of his five goals in the first quarter, getting on the end of some wonderful disposal from the likes of Martin and Brad Thomas.

Demons’ skipper Martin, however, did not take to the field in the second half, nursing a suspected injured shoulder, and much of the side’s creativity was stifled by Bulldogs pressure.

Zac Nelson and Carmelo Lando tried to push the game back in the Dees’ direction, however the Bulldogs look a fit unit, not a surprise when co-coach Dalton runs an F45 gym, and were able to keep up the pace as the game wore on.

CURTIS IS ENJOYING THE HELP: A lot of pressure has been placed on the broad shoulders of Tyler Curtis in recent years, as the big man has always had the potential to tear up the competition. He hasn’t had a lot of help in the past, but now there is significant support, especially with Matthew Min taking control in the forward line. Curtis was strong in the ruck and able to play a kick behind the action all day.

YOUNG TALENT TIME: Both sides had a number of youngsters who showed impressive signs. South duo Mason Fitzgerald and Taj Stevens played arguably their best senior games while Ryan Brand kicked a goal with his first disposal, calmly finishing after initially dropping a mark. For the Dees, Cooper Allford has a future in the ruck, debutant Archer Olsen gave his all and Noah Hills provided plenty of dash from half-back.

South Mildura are at home to Ouyen United this week while Mildura clash with old rivals Imperials.


SOUTH MILDURA 14.7 (91) d MILDURA 10.8 (68)

GOALS: South Mildura: M. Min 3, C. Sellens, A. Gauci, M. Spencely 2, T. Curtis, R. Fitzgerald, R. Brand, B. Dalton. Mildura: A. Matthews 5, D. Wager, C. Lando 2, J. Gosman.

BEST: South Mildura: N. Nolan, M. Min, M. Spencely, B. Dalton, T. Curtis, H. Kiel. Mildura: Z. Nelson, A. Matthews, C. Lando, B. Thomas, D. Murphy, T. Martin

Story & photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

Under 18 Dogs stop the Eagles

SOUTH Mildura handed Robinvale Euston their first loss of the SFNL Under 18 season, to the tune of 46 points, at Sarah Oval.

The Eagles were on top of the ­table after round 2 with a monster percentage of 650, however the Bulldogs showed some bite to pull off a solid win.

Leading by 31 points at the long break, South were never headed as they kicked 6.6 to 4.3 in the second half to claim their second victory of the season.

Harry Welch and Brayth Munn led from the front for the Dogs, with Ryan Brand booting three goals and Welch, Aaron Cogan and Brodie Fitzgerald kicking two.

Robinvale Euston’s Dion Camera’s two goals leaves him in second place on the goal kicking table with 11, while Mitchell Carmichael and Zac Leslie were named their side’s best players.

Liano Scullino drives the Bulldogs forward

South Mildura’s Coen Berryman tries to escape the clutches of Robinvable Euston’s Matthew Zaffina

Story and photos courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

New dog shows old tricks

SOUTH Mildura recruit Matthew Min has made an immediate impact at his new club.

The South Australian, who was a member of the Adelaide Crows SANFL squad in 2017 and crossed from the Riverland this year, led the Bulldogs to their first win of the Sunraysia season on Saturday with five goals in a best-on-ground display against Red Cliffs.

And he hopes success-starved South can build on that “winning brand” for the remainder of the season, starting with Robinvale Euston at home this weekend.

“We’ve got a lot of new players this year and obviously they’re going to take a few games to gel,” Min said.

“It’s a reasonably young playing group.

“The first game against Irymple was a tough one, coming up against the reigning premiers.

“But it was good seeing the benchmark for the competition and seeing where we need to strive to get to.”

The Bulldogs, who finished with the wooden spoon in 2019, responded like a team on the rise on Saturday, squaring their season ledger at 1-1 with a 33-point win over the Tigers.

“One of the things South haven’t done well historically is running games out but on the weekend it was really good to be able to run over the top of Red Cliffs in the second half,” Min said.

“We stuck to our structures well on the weekend but we also ran the game out really well … one of the aims for the group this year is our fitness.

“Against Irymple in round 1 we went away from our game plan a little bit in the second half so our goal this week (against Robinvale Euston) is to stick to it as well as we can and hopefully that’s enough to get the win.

“It’ll be great to get a win at home.”

The 29-year-old said he was settling into his role as a leader at South, and was confident in the  direction the club was heading.

“It’s an opportunity for me to do some forward coaching and coach the new talent,” he said.

“It’s nice to help bring a club up – to help them achieve some success … that was the challenge and that’s what I’m excited about.”

After kicking a wayward 1.7 in round 1, Min finished with 5.5 on Saturday, admitting his “radar and accuracy is slowly improving”.

But the positive for South is that he is generating many chances in the forward 50.

Min said the Bulldogs want to play possession-based footy and hit the scoreboard more often.

“At the moment I think we play a reasonably strong team defence and an exciting brand of footy which is high-scoring enough to win games,” he said.

“We have some good one-on-one players forward of centre, so if we can get it into those people quickly it will help us be a bit more successful.”

Min, who is still living in the Riverland and travelling from South Australia for games, said he had been made to feel “at home” in his short time at the club.

“South is very welcoming,” he said.

“There’s a lot of hype around the club at the moment in regards to the new oval that’s being built for next year.

“Now we’ve got that winning brand back, that will help our cause … we’ve got that hunger for success and we’re looking to sustain it for the rest of the year.”

Story and photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

Round Two – Bulldogs starting to rise

TALENT STARTING TO RISE: Round 2 only provided more new talent for fans to lock onto with many younger players beginning to settle in to their senior roles. Mason Fitzgerald and Taj Stevens looked more comfortable, demonstrating lesser fumbling and cleaner skills. Flinn Tily and Tyler Curtis also proved they could be prominent ruck-men in the near future.

SOUTH Mildura rode out an early storm from a gallant Red Cliffs to collect their first ‘W’ of the season in Sunraysia football on Saturday.

The Bulldogs, who have endured a gruelling pre-season under new playing coach Ben Dalton, who is a fitness trainer by trade, were full of run in the second half to draw away to a 33-point win at Quandong Park.

It came after a competitive first half, where the Tigers came out with plenty of pounce and matched South in the contest.

After an even start, Matthew Min solidified his place in the team for the Bulldogs with a goal of his own, before setting up another, while a spectacular banana kick from Kevin McDonald helped the visitors kick away to a 13-point quarter-time lead.

But Red Cliffs regrouped under new coach Vas Tuifao after the break and looked the better team at stages during the second term. The Tigers added three goals to close the game to within a kick.

With the game in the balance, South took control of some key match-ups in the second half, however, to re-establish control.

Deklan Loveridge came out on top of his many one-on-ones with Jordon Bourke, and a brave Tyran Dowell negated the influence of the Tigers’ coach Tuifao, which is no easy task.

Exceptional wing-work from playing coach Dalton along with the run of youngsters Mason Fitzgerald, Anthony Gauci and Matthew Spencely helped widen the gap, as South surged away with nine goals to five for the half to square their season at 1-1.

BIG SUMMER PAYING OFF: South Mildura’s playing coach Ben Dalton credits their rigorous pre-season for Saturday’s runaway win. “We knew it was going to be pretty hotly contested in terms of us (South Mildura and Red Cliffs) coming in today thinking it was a game we could win. So we expected it to be pretty hot and heavy in the first half, but we knew from the work we’d done in the pre-season early on we had the legs to come over the top in the end. The whole time for us was just to be in a position where we could win and then we could take care of it in the second half of the game. We showed some really good signs to finish off the game.”

SOUTH MILDURA 14.11 (95) d RED CLIFFS 9.8 (62)

Goals:  South Mildura: M. Min 5, A. Gauci 2, T. Curtis, M. Spencely, J. McEwen, T. Stevens, C. Sellens, K. McDonald, L. Robertson. Red Cliffs: J. Bourke 2, J. Marciano, J. Sherry, V. Tuifao, L. Marcia-no, J.Reed, J. Parker, J. Jackson.

Best: South Mildura: M. Min, J. McEwen, M. Spencely, B. Dalton, D. Loveridge, D. Scullino. Red Cliffs: J. Bourke, D. Adkins, J. Marciano, J. Jackson, J. Reed, P. Tuifao.


Story and photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily