Warrandyte Reserve, home to the mighty Bloods, played host on Saturday to a dominant performance from the red and the white against Park Orchards Sharks in Division 4, on a surface that was slippery in the pockets and suited a sharp kicking style.
The final 14.9 (93) to 6.8 (44) scoreline was not indicative of the determination the Sharks came out with in the first quarter, who snared a 20 point buffer before Warrandyte could even blink. Liam Buhagiar put through the Sharks first after a scrappy start, with Michael Philp adding another two.
Ross Ansaldi and Michael Morello were working hard early, but a relentless Park Orchards outfit denied Warrandyte the opportunity to score. Bloods coach Michael Tout got stuck into his players at quarter time, urging them to lower their eyes when kicking, and getting front and square up forward.
The message seemed to pay dividends, when Luke Dunn entered the fray to the delight of the Bloods crowd on the new pavilion balcony. Unfortunately, turnovers to the Sharks continued as Warrandyte looked to create some momentum. Dunn snared another before Tom Harley for the Sharks kept the margin out beyond two goals.
Alex McCormick and Andrew Molloy worked hard across defence for Park Orchards, but there was simply no stopping the might of Dunn, who finished with an incredible nine goal haul. The clear highlight of the day was his screamer pulled in over a pack of Sharks players.
Josh Barrett also wanted in on the majors, and without warning both sides were on level pegging, and the Sharks needed to work. Skipper Tom Feher and teammate Ryan Turner found midfield drive, but this time it was the likes of Tim Hookey and Steve Harris for Warrandyte who repelled the attack, and at half time it was 5.4 (34) apiece.
Buhagiar was the only goalkicker for Park Orchards in the third quarter, as Warrandyte not only tightened the screws, but demolished the Sharks. The Bloods went on a nine goal to one run in the second half, with Ansaldi nailing a deserved goal to get the ball rolling. James Appleby and Barrett chipped in, but the second half was Dunn’s show.
The ball use was more efficient from Warrandyte, who were quicker out of the centre and out of the attacking stoppages. From the bench, Park Orchards coach John Brown was not happy when the Sharks softly turned it over to the Bloods.
Michael Viney was quiet after half time, but the likes of defensive rock Matthew Fleming, the Turner brothers, Ryan and Luke, as well as Buhagiar continued to press to create an impact for Park Orchards, but Warrandyte held the ball in their attacking 50 to seal the victory.
On the Bloods bench was former North Melbourne champion Glenn Archer, providing head coach Michael Tout with great input and tactics during the play. The rivalry formed between these clubs had 2000 people at the first clash of the year at Domeney Reserve in round six, and only increased with a vocal crowd at Warrandyte Reserve.
The Bloods sit equal first with Silvan, who smashed Nunawading by 169 points, but have a percentage advantage of more than 50 points, which will be crucial come finals time next month. For Park Orchards, the loss allowed Ferntree Gully to creep up behind the Sharks after a narrow three point victory against the Eastern Lions at Ferntree Gully Reserve.