Grubbers return to high-pressure footy

Jake Wilkie was in everything for Ocean Grove. (pictures Justin Flynn)

By Justin Flynn

Ocean Grove put aside the disappointment of an 82-point loss to unbeaten Torquay with a 149-point win against the winless Portarlington in round 13 of Bellarine Football League.

The Grubbers’ opponents during the past two weeks could not have been more different. The all-conquering Torquay doesn’t look like losing, while Portarlington looks destined to go through the season without tasting victory.

“Torquay are far and away the most organised team in the competition and deserving of being runaway premiership favourites,” Ocean Grove coach Pete Davey said.

“It wasn’t a lesson as such but more an appreciation that while we have made great inroads in our development this year, we still have a lot of work in front of us in our pursuit of being a year-on-year, dominant BFL club.

“Our pressure game is always the key indicator of how we’re tracking and that was the message to our players going into the Port game, just get back to that and the rest will look after itself.

“From what we saw at the Torquay game, the endeavour was there. It’s just that they are a very good side.”

Ocean Grove powered away from Portarlington in every quarter to run out massive winners, 22.26 (158) – 1.3 (9).

James Paterson and Jake Ward each snared five goals, while Tom Waters kicked four and livewire forward Sam Donegan three.

Davey said he was pleased with his side’s pressure.

“We said from the start that it was never about looking for percentage or trying to put a number on the scoreboard, we just wanted to get back to our brand of high pressure football and right from the first bounce, we did that,” he said.

“Despite keeping Port to four scoring shots, we still laid 62 effective tackles which is a testament to our team’s want to roll the sleeves up and get back to doing the dirty work.”

Ocean Grove’s goalkicking inaccuracy prevented it from winning by even more.

“We probably missed upwards of 10 set shots that should have been goals so making sure the boys are comfortable and can trust their goalkicking routine is something we’ll certainly work on,” Davey said.

Davey said his side has the lowest average of player points of any club this season.

“We average the lowest player points of all sides in the league and we’re currently sitting in fifth position with a highly competitive core of local players who are in their teens or early twenties who all care and play for one another,” he said.

“We’re not having to rotate recruits each week like some clubs are which puts us in an enviable position that we can simply choose our best performing 22 players each week.

“We’re ahead of where most people thought we would be but we know that we still have short term improvement in us. We will be a better team come Round 18 than we are right now, and we are a far better team than we were eight weeks ago.

“Hopefully that equates to three or four wins but if not, we will still be comfortable in our direction provided the weekly development is tracking and the standards that we have set on and off field are being met.”

Ocean Grove faces a rejuvenated Geelong Amateur at home on July 10.

“Ammos have players back and they will be an even bigger test than they were five weeks ago when we had to get up off the canvas in the last quarter to get the job done,” Davey said.

“It should be a really good game from a neutral supporter’s perspective.

“As it stands now, we have serious competition from Drysdale to hold fifth spot but we know that we control what happens from here on and with five rounds to go, we couldn’t ask for any more than that.”

Ocean Grove won the reserves contest, 25.16 (166) – 1.1 (7). Harrison Dolley booted nine goals while Byron Taylor and Josh Lange pushed their claims for a seniors spot with scintillating performances.

In round 12, flag favourite Torquay handed Ocean Grove an 82-point drubbing at Ray Menzies Memorial Oval.

The Tigers were at their brutal best, opening up a 30-point lead at quarter-time and then cruising to a big win, 20.8 (128) – 6.10 (46).

Paul McMahon and Lucas Anderson each kicked six goals for the Tigers while James Paterson booted three for Ocean Grove.

Rhys Hobbs, Sam Donegan and skipper Jake Wilkie were prominent for the Grubbers.

Torquay prevailed in the reserves clash, 18.9(117) to 5.1(31). Bailey Cameron and Ben Potter were best for Ocean Grove.